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Mass poisonings kill three children in Central China
( 2003-11-13 22:47) (China Daily)

A total of three school children have died and 46 others have fallen ill in two separate food poisoning cases in Central China recently, according to local police.

In Hunan Province, a farmer yesterday deliberately poisoned food, leaving two pupils dead and 25 others hospitalized. The incident followed another on Tuesday night, in which one primary school student died and 21 others fell ill in Hubei Province.

In the first case, farmer Wei Entan, from Nanjiang town in Pingjiang county of Hunan, allegedly went to Daxing and Simei primary schools in the county and gave poisoned popcorn and citrus to Yu Yuanfang, a fifth-grade student of Daxing School, and to Yu Xueling, a second-grade student of Simei School. He allegedly told them to share the treats with fellow pupils.

After they ate the poisonous food, 27 schoolchildren immediately fell sick and were sent to the hospital. However, Yu Yuanfang and Xu Dujiang, from Simei School, died on the way to hospital.

The suspect Wei allegedly tried to escape by bus but was stopped halfway by the police.

They said Wei attempted to commit suicide by drinking poison. He collapsed when caught and was rushed to a local hospital.

The police said the motives for the poisoning were not yet known.

In the other food poisoning case in Hubei, a total of 22 students fell ill on Tuesday night after they had their supper in the dining hall of the Nigou Central Elementary School in Jingyang town.

The school immediately sent the poisoned students to a local hospital. He Yinying, a fifth-grade student, died on Wednesday morning of respiratory failure. According to the school authorities, the girl was very weak due to diarrhoea and stomach trouble before the poisoning.

The local government said the cause of the poisoning was likely mouldy corn in the food, and authorities were still investigating the case.

By yesterday, 19 students had recovered, and two in a critical condition had been transferred to the Yunxi County Hospital, said the officials.

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