Mumbai: Three children have died and over 15 people have fallen seriously ill after they allegedly ate food at a housewarming party in a village in Khalapur. The home cooked food might have been contaminated, police said.
According to sources, Subhash Mane (56) had recently built a house in Mahad village. “On June 18, he organised a ritual and invited the entire village for a feast. While some people went for lunch, many others decided to go for dinner,” Archana Shinde, a local resident, said.
“The food that was served was cooked at home. It was a normal preparation of puri, vangi-batata (brinjal and potato curry) along with chauli saag (leafy vegetable). Around 100-150 people had the food,” said Mane.
At around 11.00 pm, Mane’s daughter and his wife started showing signs of discomfort. “They were vomiting. My daughter fainted and I rushed her to Parvati hospital. When I returned home, my wife and some of the neighbours were in even worse condition,” he said.
Festivities at the Mane household turned into a disaster after the villagers who had the food started showing signs of food poisoning. “Some of us, who were not sick, called our relatives from out of the village and eventually started taking people to the hospital,” Mane said.
However, three children, Kalyani Shingude (7), Pragati Shinde (13) and Rishikesh Shinde (12) were declared brought dead by the time they reached the hospital, police said. “All the three children had died of food poisoning and excessive dehydration. They were even showing signs of asphyxia,” a doctor at the local hospital said.
“In all, we have had 80 people approach the hospital. Of them, 25 have been admitted to various hospitals in Khopoli, Panvel and Navi Mumbai. Seventeen out of the 25 were discharged by Tuesday afternoon. Four patients are still critical,” a senior officer from Khalapur police station said.
The Khalapur police have lodged an accidental death report and intimated the Food and Drugs department. “We have sealed the kitchen where the food was cooked and have taken samples. We can’t say what caused the food poisoning, but it could have been some sort of pesticide. We have to check if it was deliberately put in the food,” the senior officer added.
“Mane is not from this village. He built a big house on land a purchased here. It is possible that some people might have been jealous and decided to poison the food. Whoever is behind this should be punished,” said Pandurang Shinde, uncle of one of the deceased. The parents of Rishikesh and Pragati were also admitted to the hospital.