Saturday, March 12, 2005

Miserere nobis

Village buries poisoned children
Thursday, March 10, 2005 Posted: 4:22 PM EST (2122 GMT)

SAN JOSE, Philippines (Reuters) -- Hundreds of grieving villagers walked under scorching sun Thursday to bury 12 of 26 Filipino children poisoned by a cassava snack [apparently called "kamoteng cahoy" -- EBB] they ate at school in central Philippines. ...

Most of 90 children, aged between 6 and 13 years, were sent home from hospitals on Bohol island in the central Philippines after their conditions improved, a day after eating the local delicacy during a mid-morning school break on Wednesday. ...

Some 2,000 villagers joined the families of 12 dead children in a mass burial at a public cemetery on Thursday afternoon.

From a Roman Catholic church, men carrying 12 small wooden coffins on their backs walked for over a kilometer under an intense afternoon sun on a dusty village road to the cemetery in the middle of rice paddies.

Distraught mothers of the dead were hysterical, crying and clinging tightly to wooden coffins that were slid into concrete tombs. Some men cursed the old woman who cooked and sold the cassava fritters and balls suspected to be poisoned. ...

Troy Gepte of the health department's National Epidemiology Center told reporters in the capital Manila that children may have been poisoned by cyanide in the fried cassava.

"Based on data and information regarding the cassava, cyanogens occur naturally in the root crop," he said. "These are compounds which contain cyanide. The cassava should be boiled or dried first before using it as a food ingredient."

Please pray for these dear people, and the souls of the dead.

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