THREE boys, between four and eight years old, died from suspected food poisoning in Otur town in Pune district on Monday evening. The boys were identified as Rahul (8), Sairaj (6) and Dhanraj (4), children of Balu and Sindhu Fulmali, residents of Nandkar Vasti area in Otur. Their two sisters — Gauri (13) and Pooja (10) — have also fallen ill from suspected food poisoning, said police.
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Police have collected several food samples to determine the source of poisoning. They believe that the five children consumed contaminated food somewhere outside their house, which led to severe food poisoning.
According to Inspector Ravindra Thorat of Otur police station, the children come from a poor family and earn a living by collecting alms.
On Monday evening, the five children started complaining of stomach ache and vomiting.
“They were first taken to the rural hospital in Otur, where they were given primary treatment and then sent home as they said they felt better,” said Thorat.
He added, “But their condition worsened in the night. They were rushed to a private hospital, where two of the children, Rahul and Sairaj, died. Dhanraj was rushed to the Sassoon General Hospital in Pune, where he was declared dead around midnight. The two sisters were admitted to a hospital in Ahmednagar and are out of danger now.”
Several people had distributed sweets and snacks in Nandkar vasti on the occasion of Diwali, said police.
“Their parents told us that the five children had gone out and they may have had something outside. As part of the investigation, a case of sudden death has been registered as a starting point. Our teams have also taken samples of food cooked in their home, including a potato dish and a chicken curry. We have also taken samples of the sweets and snacks distributed in the locality on that day and before. These samples have been sent for chemical analysis… There is a possibility that they ate food sold at some stall.”
Police officials said that if the tests and the investigation proved that a particular food item had led to the children’s death, an offence will be registered. They added that they had not ruled out the possibility of foul play.