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Over 200 Students Ill from School Meals

On Wednesday, 64 Hubei Province primary school students fell ill after eating pickled vegetables in their school dining hall. In Hunan Province on Thursday, tung oil intentionally poured into the breakfast soup resulted in the hospitalization of more than 100 students. Another 40 primary school pupils in Shanxi Province showed symptoms of food poisoning after drinking milk around 10 AM Thursday.

64 students poisoned in Hubei
Apparent food poisoning struck down 64 students at Qingshan Primary School in Diaoguan Town, central China's Hubei Province, on Wednesday.

The students were rushed to a town hospital after showing symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or vomiting. Three who were in serious condition were transferred to the municipal hospital, which subsequently reported that all students were out of life-threatening danger.

The village school has over 300 students and requires all students to eat three meals at school.

The students had noodles and pickled vegetables on Wednesday morning. Some reported to the teachers the pickled vegetables had a bad taste, but the teachers paid little attention, said Wang Bo, a student. After finishing breakfast, some of the students complained of stomachaches, weakness and headaches, Wang said.

After the incident, many parents complained about the rule requiring students to have three meals at school.

One grandmother of a sickened student said that she had cooked fish at home Wednesday, but the school prevented her from sending the fish to her grandson at school.

An investigation is still under way.

Poisoned soup sickens over 100 students in Hunan
Thirteen students chipped in to buy tung oil and pour it into the breakfast soup provided in the dining hall of a school in central China's Hunan Province. More than 100 students were ill and hospitalized Thursday.

All of the victims at the Siping Town Middle School were rushed immediately to the local clinic after falling ill with headaches, vomiting and diarrhea after drinking the soup in the dining room around 8:30 Thursday morning.

Local public security and sanitation supervision departments confirmed that tung oil in the soup was the cause of the poisoning.

Forty of the most serious of the 100-plus victims were sent to the hospital in the Taoyuan County seat. As of press time, all the victims were in stable condition, with no critical cases reported.

The 13 student co-conspirators said each of them paid one yuan to buy the tung oil. They poisoned the soup because they were not satisfied with the quality of the meals provided by the dining hall and thought the price was unreasonable, according to the Taoyuan County police department.

Yellow or brownish tung oil is extracted from the seeds of the tung tree and is used as a drying agent in varnishes and paints and for waterproofing. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and possibly respiratory problems and shock if consumed, according to the health department of Taoyuan County.

The investigation is continuing.

Milk leaves 40 pupils sick in Shanxi
Forty pupils fell ill after drinking milk around 10 AM Thursday at a primary school at Zhangcun Village in north China's Shanxi Province.

At press time, 34 of the 40 had been discharged from the hospital and six were still in intensive care. However, doctors said all the students were out of danger.

All the victims, from the Zhangcun Colliery Primary School, were rushed to the hospital when they felt sick after drinking some locally produced milk.

Employees of the city's administrative office of industry and commerce heard about the incident at the school as they were conducting a food quality check at local markets in the morning. They immediately reported it to the local government.

Local authorities have issued an order to stop all milk sales and to trace the distribution channel of the defective milk. Samples are being tested and an investigation is underway.

(Xinhua News Agency April 30, 2004)

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