At least 22 children are dead after eating a free school lunch that was tainted with an insecticide at a school in a small village in Bihar, India. More than 30 children remain hospitalized, most in serious condition.
On Tuesday, the children, ages 5 to 12, ate a lunch of potatoes, rice, lentils and soybeans, prepared by the school kitchen. After lunch they became ill and complained of stomach pains, reported World Now.
Authorities in India were able to determine through preliminary testing that the meal was tainted with an insecticide called organophosphorous, a chemical commonly used in agriculture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Provention website, exposure to large quantities of organophosphorus can lead to nausea, vomiting, irregular or slow heartbeat, difficulty breathing or tightness in the chest, salivation, weakness, paralysis and seizures.
It is still unclear as to what part of the meal was poisonous or if the contamination was caused by not properly washing some of the ingredients. A full investigation into the cause of the poisoning is underway and a case of criminal negligence has been filed against the school's principal by authorities.
The free lunches are part of a government-funded program in India to provide meals to over 120 million underprivileged children in the country.
News of the deaths triggered violent protests in Gandamal, the village where the school is located.
The BBC is reporting that 200,000 rupees ($3,370) in compensation has been offered to the families of each of the dead children.
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