More than two dozen died after accidentally ingesting pesticides that were incorporated into a treat for a special occasion.
Pakistani police have confirmed that pesticides were accidentally mixed into a batch of sweets, which led to the death of 26 people and the hospitalization of dozens of others.
“Children and women were among the dead in Fateh Poor, in the province’s Layyah region,” said police official Wasim Akba.
According to CNN, Umer Hayat bought 11 pounds of laddu, a fried dough treat that is popular in South Asia, from Tariq Hotel & Sweet in the village of Karor Lal Esan. The treats were bought in honor of the birth of Hayat’s grandson, Abdullah, who was born April 19.
Five people died immediately after consuming the laddu April 21, the BBC notes. As reported by Bella Naija, the death toll increased as the village did not have the proper resources and health facilities to be able to pump the patients’ stomachs, according to resident Arshad Bhutta. Dr. Taha Salman, a visiting doctor in Layyah, said the victims needed to be transferred to medical centers in Lahore or Karachi.
Investigators said that an employee at the bakery has stated he mistakenly added pesticide into the mixture for the laddu.
“The results of the forensic tests of the deceased and the pastries were still pending,” explained police official Wasim Akba.
Akbar said the pesticides, instead of flavoring, were added to the laddu mixture. Only English words were written on the label on the can, which resembled similar ingredients to the flavoring the establishment uses for this treat.
Three people have been arrested in connection to the incident for violation of food control and poisonous substances laws.
“There was a pesticide shop close by which was being renovated, and the owner had left his pesticides at the bakery for safe keeping,” said senior police official Rameez Bukhari.
The pesticide ingested in the laddu is banned in the country and stores are not allowed to sell it. However, resident Muhammad Ali told CNN the substance is often used to create poison for crops.
Hayat is in critical condition. Many of his relatives have died, including all seven of his brothers, one sister, and two children. The father of the newborn is also ill.