KORONADAL CITY: At least 120 persons were rushed to the hospital in South Cotabato after eating what local officials suspected as “spoiled” noodles (“pancit”) during a village celebration on Sunday.
The victims were all residents of a remote village of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato and belonged to a religious sect known as the “Salvation Army.”
Lake Sebu Mayor Antonio Fungan said the victims were residents of Barangay Takunel, who celebrated the group’s foundation anniversary and almost simultaneously complained of severe abdominal pain.
“Many victims claimed they experienced loose bowel movement and vomiting,” Fungan told DXOM-AM Radyo Bida in Koronadal City.
“We suspect a spoiled pancit (noodles) prepared for the celebration,” Fungan said, adding that the noodles were prepared as early as 1 a.m. Sunday and were served at noon.
The noodles were placed separately in small cellophane containers and distributed as viand during lunch.
Fungan said he learned from event organizers the bihon was prepared by village teenagers, all members of the “Salvation Army.”
“It may not be properly cooked or the food was spoiled when placed in cellophane and exposed to the heat of the sun,” he said in Filipino.
“Relief assistance and medicine, including distilled water have been provided to the victims,” the mayor said. Some victims were already discharged from the hospital but remained weak.
The town health office has gathered samples of the spoiled noodles for laboratory test at the provincial health office.