Autopsy reports on 22 children who died this week after eating a school lunch in Bihar confirmed that they were poisoned by insecticide, which was either in the food or cooking oil, a doctor said Thursday.
Patna Medical College hospital superintendent Amarkant Jha Amar said that although it was clear the children died from insecticide, results were still pending to determine what the chemicals were.
The free mid-day meal was served to the children on Tuesday in Gandamal village in Masrakh block, 80 kilometers north of Patna, the Bihar state capital. The children, aged 5-12, got sick soon after eating rice, lentils, soya and potatoes, and soon 22 of them were dead and dozens were hospitalised.
The 25 children and the school cook still being treated in the hospital are unlikely to suffer from any serious aftereffects from the tainted food, Amar said, though four of the children were still in the intensive care unit. “There will be no remnant effects on them. The effects of poisoning will be washed after a certain period of time from the tissues,” Amar said.
Bihar Education Minister P.K. Sahi said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation suggested that the food served to the children contained an organophosphate used as an insecticide on rice and wheat crops. He said it was believed the rice had not been washed before it was served to the children. Amar said Thursday that the post-mortem reports on the children who died confirmed that insecticide was either in the food or cooking oil. He said authorities were waiting for lab results for more details on the chemicals.