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Toxic Holi in Dharavi as 160 take ill

Over 160 people from Dharavi,many of them children,were hospitalised on Thursday as they took ill after playing Holi allegedly with toxic colours.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai |
March 9, 2012 1:41:00 am

Over 160 people from Dharavi,many of them children,were hospitalised on Thursday as they took ill after playing Holi allegedly with toxic colours. While some children fainted or felt giddy,others went blue as the contaminated colours were ingested,witnesses and doctors said. Four children and one adult are serious and in the ICU of Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Hospital in Sion.

The incident was reported around 1.30 pm when a bunch of boys fainted in a lane near Dharavi. Soon,many more cases started getting reported around Dharavi and Sion. “Once we reached the hospital,we spotted a huge commotion. Patients kept growing and we had to ensure that there is no law and order situation,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (east) Quaiser Khalid. Additional forces were called in and patients were taken to hospital from the area.

A preliminary probe found that a sack of outdated batch of colours had been stolen from a factory in Mahim slums. The factory had apparently remained shut for a few years. The police have been told that patients were found with traces of benzene,a chemical commonly found in wall paint. For now,the police have charged unidentified persons with sections of voluntarily causing grievous hurt and endangering life. “Witnesses have come forward to give some leads,” said Khalid.

According to the police,the reaction started showing around noon when people returned home after playing Holi. The contaminated paint started reacting as it had traces of benzene and other chemicals.

“Many patients whose statements have been recorded complained of suffocation and giddiness after they started washing it off with water. The primary report is awaited,” said Khalid.

The Dean of Sion Hospital,Dr Sandhya Kamat,said it was important to first cleanse the patients’ blood of the toxic material. “The patients have been diagnosed with methaemoglobinemia,wherein an abnormal amount of haemoglobin is produced causing reduced amounts of oxygen to reach the body tissues. The condition is often triggered by the presence of benzene in the blood. It is important to get rid of the toxins before the condition complicates further,” he said.

Other stray cases of eye injuries were also reported at city hospitals. “Children have been coming in with eye complaints days before Holi,most of them hit by water balloons from a distance. Swelling of the eye region and temporary flashes were common complaints,” said a doctor at the Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital.

KEM and JJ Hospitals saw patients coming with complaints of skin rashes and bruises. “This year too people came in with skin eruptions caused due to cheap colours. Some also had bruises due to the force of water balloons,” said Dr Randhir Singh from KEM.

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