CHENNAI: Three children died and 11 others were hospitalised due to suspected food poisoning in a home for destitute children in Tirupur on Thursday.
The children, staying in Sri Vivekananda Sevalayam in Tirumuruganpoondi in Tirupur began to fall ill after having ‘rasam’ rice for lunch on Wednesday. It was served for dinner too. They then developed complications with bouts of vomiting and severe diarrhoea and began to faint at night.
Preliminary inquiries by police revealed that Babu, 10 and Athish, 11, died in the home, while Madesh, 14, succumbed without responding to treatment in a private hospital on Thursday early morning hours.
Eleven other children, all aged seven to 17 years, were admitted to Tirupur Government Medical College and Hospital for treatment. Along with them, the orphanage security guard Jayaraman, 63 from Kerala is also undergoing treatment for illness.
On information, a team led by City Police Commissioner S Prabhakaran rushed to the home and held an inquiry.
Tirupur Collector S Vineeth said three children are treated in the ICU of the hospital, while the condition of others including the security guard is said to be stable.
“Doctors suspect it to be a case of food poisoning due to consumption of rotten food. It would be ascertained once the test reports arrive. Action will be initiated against the culprits based on the reports,” he told reporters.
“The children look dehydrated and some are down with severe fever. Samples of urine, excreta and blood have been collected from the children for testing,” said a doctor in Tirupur GH.
Tirupur City Police Commissioner S Prabhakaran said the children were given medicine without prescription of doctors. “Samples of food and water were sent for analysis. The children were given sweets and sundal received from outsiders on Tuesday night,” he said.
Minister MP Swaminathan, who came to the hospital, said the deaths could have been averted if timely treatment was given. “The Chief Minister has deputed Social Welfare Minister Geetha Jeevan to inquire into the incident,” he added.
Based on a complaint by Tirumuruganpoondi VAO, a case has been registered under IPC section 174 (3).
Meanwhile, police have been deployed at the orphanage after members of a Dalit outfit gathered demanding action. Soon, members of Hindu outfits arrived and broke into an argument with the protestors triggering tension. Police then intervened and sent them all away.