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11 Get Sick, Die at Religious Ceremony

They were celebrating a new temple in India
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 15, 2018 10:14 AM CST
A woman cries near the body of her husband who died of suspected food poisoning at Bidarahalli, near Sulawadi village in Chamarajnagar district of Karnataka state, India, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018.   (AP Photo/Madhusudhan Sr)
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(Newser) – Police on Saturday arrested three people after at least 11 died of suspected food poisoning following a ceremony to celebrate the construction of a new Hindu temple in southern India, the AP reports. Police officer Musharraf says that more than 130 sick people were recovering from poisoning in various hospitals in Chamarajnagar district of Karnataka state. The area is 110 miles south of Bangalore, the state capital. Musharraf, who uses one name, says Hindu devotees ate contaminated cooked vegetables and rice on Friday. They immediately started vomiting, complained of severe stomach pain, and were taken to nearby hospitals. Musharraf says eight of those hospitalized were in critical condition.

He says three members of the temple's management have been arrested and samples of the food sent for chemical analysis. Murege Swamy, who attended the temple ceremony, says "they were giving us some offerings at the temple. It had a weird smell. When we asked what that was, they told us it is because of leaves in the offering. As soon as we ate that, me and my friends felt a sharp pain in our stomachs and started puking." Sangeeta, who uses only one name, says she was lucky that she didn't eat anything at the temple: "Only a few were OK, but everyone else was vomiting immediately." Cases of food poisoning killing multiple people has been a problem in India. In 2013, 22 children died in a school in the eastern state of Bihar after eating food tainted with a pesticide that had been stored in a cooking oil container.

(Read more India stories.)

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