At least 16 tribals of a village in East Godavari district died of suspected water poisoning, malaria and typhoid since May 29. Andhra Pradesh Home Minister N Chinnarajappa said that all the tribals belong to the Chaprai hamlet which is located on a hill in the Yarlagadda Ramavaram mandal in East Godavari district affected by viral fevers. A dead cow may have contaminated their primary water source, he said. He said that nine persons died in the hamlet itself earlier, while another seven who were brought to primary health centres died in the last two weeks.
“Sixteen persons died while another 32 are recovering. The water poisoning probably occurred due to the dead carcass of a cow in a small pond from which the tribals were drinking water. There is a bore well in top of the hill but they were not using it. Medical and relief teams have been sent but all of them could not reach on Friday and Saturday because the huts are scattered on the hill and it is difficult to climb due to the heavy downpour. They reached and Sunday and we have shifted 32 tribals from the hamlet to primary health centres in Rompachodavaram, Maredmulli and Kakinada. At least nine persons died in the hamlet itself in the last three weeks but the tribals who come down only once a week for the village fair did not inform anyone. Another seven who were brought in critical condition died at PHCs later. The 32 others who are admitted are suffering from malaria and typhoid mainly and some water-borne viral fevers,’’ the Home Minister told The Indian Express.
East Godavari district collector Kartikeya Mishra said that the health officers, medical teams, and rescue officials reached the village Sunday and took stock of the situation and started shifting anyone who was unwell to the PHCs. “Bottled drinking water, food, dry rations and medicines have been rushed to the hamlet. The villagers have been advised not to drink the water from any other source for now and till the whole place is sanitized,’’ a district health officer said.
While samples from water sources have been collected from the tribal hamlet to determine cause of poisoning, officials suspect that their primary water source—a small pond—was contaminated by the carcass of a cow which was found nearby. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakhs to the kin of the deceased. The CMO has also asked the EG district collector to explore if a path can be cleared up to the hill for vehicles to reach.