Free School Lunch Kills 22 Kids in India
Insecticides thought to be the cause
By Newser Editors, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2013 6:37 PM CDT
Updated Jul 17, 2013 6:44 AM CDT
An Indian cook distributes free school lunches to children at a government run school in Patna, India, Wednesday, July 17, 2013.   (AP Photo/ Aftab Alam Siddiqui)

(Newser) – A horrible story out of India: At least 22 children between the ages of 8 and 12 are dead after eating a free school lunch yesterday; more than two dozen others were hospitalized after eating the rice, soybean and potato curry, which is believed to have been tainted with insecticides, the Wall Street Journal reports. The state education minister specifically blames organo-phosphorus, the BBC reports, and he says investigators are looking into how it got in the food. One doctor treating the children thinks the vegetable oil the meal was cooked in, which the education secretary described as "foul-smelling," could have been contaminated.

The Mid-Day Meal Scheme, an effort to boost attendance, has had issues with poor hygiene and food poisoning in the past; it is the largest school lunch program in the world and feeds 120 million children. The incident took place at a government-run school in a village in the poor eastern state of Bihar. AFP reports that such schools are notorious for having poor kitchen hygiene. Sweltering heat probably didn't help. TV reports aired footage of sick children laid out on "wooden tables in a primitive state-run hospital." Parents have been protesting since the deaths, and the BBC warns that the toll could rise as other children are in critical condition. The school's headmistress fled in the wake of the deaths, though police note her absence "doesn't establish her involvement in the tragedy."

View 1 more image
Next on Newser: UN: Syria Is the New Rwanda
More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
8 Kids Dead, 80 Sick From School Lunch in India is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 36 comments
Jul 18, 2013 1:14 PM CDT
That is awful...Why did so many have to die before this matter was taken seriously?
Jul 17, 2013 5:31 PM CDT
Apparently someone overdid it with trying to keep the bugs off the food(sick).
Jul 17, 2013 10:24 AM CDT
If they've had food safety "issues in the past", why haven't they been addressed or corrected? The headmistress fled... that says a lot!