PATNA, India (AP) — At least 22 children died and more than two dozen others were sick after eating a free school lunch that was tainted with insecticide, Indian officials said Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear how chemicals ended up in the food in a school in the eastern state of Bihar. One official said the food may not have been properly washed before it was cooked.
The children, between the ages of 5 and 12, fell ill Tuesday soon after eating lunch in Gandamal village in Masrakh block, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the state capital of Patna. School authorities immediately stopped serving the meal of rice, lentils, soybeans and potatoes as the children started vomiting.
The lunch, part of a popular national campaign to give at least one daily hot meal to children from poor families, was cooked in the school kitchen.
The children were rushed to a local hospital and later to Patna for treatment, said state official Abhijit Sinha.
Authorities suspended an official in charge of the free meal scheme in the school and registered a case of criminal negligence against the school headmaster, who fled as soon as the children fell ill.