PATNA: Oil used to cook a school lunch that killed 23 pupils in eastern India contained a “highly toxic,” concentrated form of insecticide, a forensic report and police said on Saturday.
The children died after eating lentils, potatoes and rice cooked at the school on July 16 with oil containing an agricultural insecticide that was five times the strength sold in the market place, the report said.
“The report has found organophosphorus in oil samples collected from the school where the midday meal was prepared and consumed by the children,” Ravinder Kumar, a senior police officer, told reporters in Bihar state capital Patna.
“It was observed by the scientists of the Forensic Science Laboratory. The poisonous substance in the oil samples was more than five times the [concentration of the]commercial preparation available in the market,” Kumar added.
He said he did not have an explanation as to why the chemical was so highly concentrated.
Many of the 23 victims, aged four to 12, from Gandaman village in Bihar, were buried on a playing field adjacent to the primary school that served the free school lunch—the only meal of the day for a number of the poor youngsters.
Some 24 children and a cook are still being treated in hospital, but medical officials said they were believed to be out of danger.