Tainted milk likely killer of at least 28 Peruvian school children

October 23, 1999, Associated Press

LIMA, Peru (AP) — At least 28 children collapsed and died in a remote Andean village in Peru, apparently after being served insecticide-tainted milk at school.

The children, ranging in age from 5 to 15 years old, received the powdered milk Friday in the school of their rural village, said Dr. Holguer Lovon, director of the regional hospital in Cuzco, 350 miles southeast of Lima.

The milk apparently had been prepared in a pot that had earlier been used to mix insecticide for fumigating crops, he told The Associated Press.

Another 20 children were being treated for poisoning. Two children were listed in critical condition, Lovon said.

The children, from Taucamarca, 40 miles southeast of Cuzco, were fed their breakfast of bread and milk at midday. They began showing symptoms of the poisoning on their way home from school.

Local television showed images of highland Indians describing their children collapsing outside the school, at an adjacent soccer field, on dirt roads and in the doorways of their homes.

Scores of doctors, nurses and firefighters from Cuzco rushed to the isolated village, officials said.

But reaching the poison victims was difficult and slow.

Taucamarca has no road or telephone service and is a 1-1/2-hour walk away from Huasac, the nearest village that does, according to Maria Luisa Escalante, Huasac’s telephone operator.

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