Poisoned children remain in hospital

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 12:00am

Seventy Guangdong kindergarten students who are believed to have fallen victim to rat poison will remain in hospital for several more days for observation.

Officials at Wuchuan People's Hospital said yesterday the children and two of their teachers at Kangle No 2 Kindergarten in Huangpo village fell ill after eating breakfast on Monday. Hospital officials had told the media on Tuesday that they suspected the poison had been put in the school's water supply.

Police have so far refused to classify the incident as a poisoning case, saying only it was still being investigated.

A teacher at a Huangpo grade school said the poisoning had shocked residents in the peaceful township.

'We have no serious crime or drug problems. Most people have jobs or are self-employed,' he said.

A local medical worker agreed, saying there had also been no speculation about whether the poisoning was sparked by a business rivalry.

He would not draw a comparison with a similar case in Nanjing in September in which a jealous restaurant operator put rat poison in a successful competitor's food, killing 42 people by official count. It is believed the same type of rat poison was used in the latest incident.

'There are a few kindergartens in town and this is the newest. They have more or less the same business and the only difference with this one is that it provides transportation for the children,' he said.

Officials have called for more attention to be paid to food safety since the incident.

At the grade school, teachers and pupils were told not to eat at food stalls. 'We are advising parents not to give their children pocket money so that they cannot buy food in the streets,' the teacher said.

A health official in Guangzhou said the poison believed to have been used in the incident had been banned in China for many years.

'But from time we do find people selling it on the streets,' he said.