100 fall ill in Tamil Nadu as Mid-day meal horror continues

About 102 girls of a government school in Neyvelli in Tamil Nadu are hospitalised on Thursday after eating their mid-day meals, media reports said. The incident took place at the NLC Girls School in Neyveli.

Tribute: Students across Bihar held a candlelight vigil for the children who died and refused to eat the meals served to them in schools as a sign of protest. Pic/AFP

The doctors attending them have reportedly claimed that the children, aged between 9 to 16 years, are out of danger and all but 12 of the students had been allowed to go home. Doctors said none were in critical condition.

“Their condition is stable. Mostly they will be discharged Friday morning,” said Cuddalore district collector K Kirlosh Kumar. He said the probable cause for the mass sickness was food poisoning. The food samples had been sent to a laboratory for testing.

Local officials said the food, eggs, served to them is suspected to have been contaminated. The girls had complained of giddiness and nausea soon after they ate lunch, said reports.

Anguish in Bihar
Meanwhile, in Bihar, nineteen of the 23 children who died after eating a tainted free school meal have been buried in and around the school grounds.

Angry parents say they want the graves to serve as a reminder that the children died due to state negligence. Angry parents and villagers have buried three children inside the school campus while 16 others have been buried in a nearby area.

“People must never forget that our children died inside the school because of the government’s negligence,” said Rangeela Prasad Yadav, whose 11-year-old grand-daughter Mamata was among the dead.

A doctor at the local hospital said a chemical used in pesticides was the likely cause of contamination. In all, 47 primary school children fell ill after consuming the meal of rice and soybeans on Tuesday.

Twenty-two were confirmed dead on Wednesday. A day later Bihar’s Principal Secretary Amarjeet Singh confirmed another of the children had died.

Officials say the headmistress of the government school, in the village of Dharmasati Gandaman in Saran district, has fled. Some children at other schools in the state are now reported to be refusing to eat the free meal.

“We have received complaints that children in some schools in four or five districts have refused to eat the midday meal. We are trying to resolve the issue,” said Laxamanan, the director of the mid-day meal scheme in Bihar. 

Autopsies confirm insecticide in kids’ food
Autopsy reports on 22 children who died this week after eating the lunch confirmed that they were poisoned by insecticide.  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. One of the cooks told authorities that the cooking oil appeared different than usual, but the principal told her to use it anyway.  

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