Karachi ‘food poisoning’ death toll rises to six, investigation team formed

F.P. Report

KARACHI: A three-member investigative committee was formed on Saturday to probe the deaths of five children and their paternal aunt owing to suspected food poisoning in Karachi. 

The death toll from the suspected food poisoning incident rose to six today as the paternal aunt of the five children, who passed away a day earlier, died. Five children of the same family, whose ages ranged from 1.5 to 9 years, died of suspected food poisoning after dining at a restaurant located in Karachi’s Saddar area, police said on Friday. 

“The paternal aunt of the children, who was in critical condition, died last night,” family sources said. “Beena, 28, was admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU) and was placed on a ventilator shortly before she passed away,” the sources further said.

Investigation team formed

Later during the day, a three-member investigation committee was formed to determine the cause of death of the six family members.

The committee headed by DIG South Sharjeel Kharal comprises SSP South Pir Muhammad Shah and SSP Investigation Tariq Dharejo. 

“Samples of various food items and body parts of the deceased will be sent for forensic testing to three laboratories. The food authority will get food samples tested by a private laboratory while the committee will send body parts of the deceased to the laboratory in Karachi University and Punjab Forensic Lab,” the committee stated. 

Meanwhile, police said that a case of the deaths has not yet been registered. When the children’s father, Faisal Kakar, comes to Karachi after their burial we will consult him and register a case, police said.

The cause of the deaths can be confirmed after the post-mortem is received, officials added.

Children laid to rest

The five children were laid to rest in their hometown in Khanozai on Saturday.

Speaking to the media after their burial, the children’s father said, “My wife and I had also eaten the same food. If the food had been sprayed on then I would have also fallen ill, however, I do not want to influence the investigations.”

Faisal expressed hope that a “transparent investigation” would be conducted and said, “The Sindh and Balochistan cooperate a lot with us.”

Police officials on Friday said the family, who had reached Karachi from Quetta on Thursday night, had eaten at a restaurant in Khuzdar and later called for food at their guest house from a restaurant in Saddar. 

“The children’s mother started feeling sick in the middle of the night and her husband, Faisal Kakar, took her to a nearby private hospital where she was given first aid. When the couple returned to the guest house, they found two of their children dead and three others were in an unconscious state. Their paternal aunt was also ill,” officials had said. When the man took his children to the hospital they were pronounced dead on arrival.

Following the incident, the restaurant in Saddar was sealed by the Sindh Food Authority and samples of food taken for chemical examination. The Sindh Food Authority also submitted an initial report to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on the incident.

Further, police said they had taken 18 employees of the eatery in question into custody.

Deputy Inspector General South Sharjeel Kharal said police would try to track down samples of all the food that the family had consumed on their journey from Quetta to Karachi.