India school food: 8 dead, 80 in hospital

2013-07-16 18:17

Patna - Eight children died and 80 others were hospitalised on Tuesday after eating lunch served at their school in eastern India, officials said.

"The eight children died after consuming the midday meal in their school," local Bihar state administrator Abhijit Sinha told AFP by telephone.

The children, who were all below the age of 10, had been served a meal of rice and lentils cooked at the school, Sinha said.

"It is a matter of uncertainty why some of the children died while others survived after consuming the midday meal," Sinha added.

Bihar state chief minister Nitish Kumar ordered an immediate investigation into the deaths.

He said that a team of forensic experts was being rushed to the school to determine the cause of the deaths.

Television footage showed sick children lying on wooden tables in a primitive state-run hospital.

Anxious family members fanned the children in the oppressive monsoon heat.

Sinha said that the tragedy had occurred in a state-run school in the village of Masrakh, in Bihar's Saran district.

Children often suffer

The 80 children taken ill were all transported to hospitals, Sinha said.

Some were being treated in state capital Patna.

Others were admitted to hospital in the town of Chhapra, around 65km from Patna.

Bihar's chief minister announced compensation to the parents of the dead children.

Free meals are offered to impoverished students in state-run schools as part of the government welfare measures in many of India's 29 states.

Bihar is considered one of India's poorest states and is also the most populous in the country.

Free lunches are hugely popular with poor families and educators see the meals as a way of increasing school attendance.

The midday meal scheme has been in place for decades.

But children often suffer from food poisoning due to poor hygiene in school kitchens and the sometimes sub-standard quality of the food.

Food prices have soared in India over the last six years, causing increased hardship for the 455 million people estimated by the World Bank to live below the poverty line.

Data from Unicef shows that one in three malnourished children worldwide is found in India, with 47% of those aged below three underweight.

Earlier this month, India's cabinet passed a decree to offer subsidised grains to nearly 70% of the population, or more than 800 million people.

  • Thabani Simelane - 2013-07-16 18:38

    WTF !

  • Soraya Asmal - 2013-07-16 18:50

    Same story in all 3rd world countries..they live below the bread line yet have no problem having children whom they cannot even feed! They shud rather go and work than have unprotected sex and make the poor kids suffer.

      Kareemah Acharya - 2013-07-16 18:59

      i hav question for u hav u eva bin to india i hav,i hav seen the poverty there,a child is a gift from God how can u as a muslim make such a statement get out of ur glass house theres many people suffering and out of work not by choice but becos theres no work

      Soraya Asmal - 2013-07-16 19:04

      I have been to india,many times! N not having work is NO excuse 4 having children!! A gift frm god they r, bt wat the hell do they need to suffer 4?? Think be4 u make stupid comments! Which child deserves to not have access to food,clothing,shelter and basic needs???mayb in ur world its ok,not mine!pls kp ur comments 2 urself as I dnt need to explain myself any further to you! My comment,my opinion!

      Pieter Grobler - 2013-07-16 20:13

      @Kareemah Acharya - Children may be a gift from God, but so is brains, self control and sexual organs. Why use only one of the 3? Surely they can use their BRAINS to realize that they should exercise SELF CONTROL so as not to procreate through SEXUAL ACTIVITY. Now, because they do not want to use the first 3 gifts from God, the 4th gift from God (children) suffer. Do you think God is pleased?

      Soraya Asmal - 2013-07-17 06:21

      Funny u brought up india of all places...where they have children,maim them jst so they can beg. Nice life hey..

  • Kareemah Acharya - 2013-07-16 19:33

    to soraya u ignorant wot u doing here in south africa we 3rd world country,get off ur high horse stop thinking u beta than poor of the world

      Soraya Asmal - 2013-07-16 19:41

      Wat is ur problem?? If u do not understand me then pls zip it! I don't think I am better, I don't want to see innocent children suffer! Wat is so hard to grasp abt tht?? Unlike u,I cannot bear to see children begging @ robots and dying due to starvation!!

      Kareemah Acharya - 2013-07-16 19:51

      Allah sit alles uit vir almal en Allah het ons gevoelens gegee om mens te help en nie te condemn nie,jy wat het moet gee al is dit hoe min,Allah gives and Allah takes and Allah makes no mistakes

      Rivashan Lee Sakaran - 2013-07-16 23:30

      Kareemah...nothing wrong was said. Poor families do not need the burden of extra mouths to feed and as such should not have more children. Agreed a child is a gift from God, where where is that gift when a 1 year old starves to death for lack of food.

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