the tragedy that struck at Holi…

MUMBAI: A 13-year-old boy died and close to 250 people, continued to be in hospital on Friday after exposure to poisonous colour during Holi festival.

Vikas Valmiki (13) died late Thursday night; he was rushed to Rajawadi hospital with severe symptoms of colour allergy. Medical officer at the causality ward of Sion Hospital said that total 210 patients admitted there, 209 continued to remain under treatment, including three under observation in the intensive care unit “One patient was allowed to go on Friday morning as he had to appear for his higher secondary school examinations. Three children and an adult are still in ICU, they are serious but stable. All the patients will remain in hospital for at least another day, we will do a blood test to check meth-haemoglobin levels in their bodies before we discuss if they can be relieved,” the doctor added.
According to hospital officials a majority of the victims suffered from giddiness, vomiting, breathlessness, rashes and other symptoms. The doctor added that the dye got absorbed through the skin affecting hemoglobin levels among other symptoms; he added that blood samples of the patients have been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.

Ishwari Murugan, mother of a teenager admitted in Sion Hospital said that she did not notice any effect on skin due to the holi colours but her son felt giddy and breathless. “We brought him to the hospital as soon as we but her fainted here and before I could understand what happened there were 20 other children of our neighbourhood with the same symptoms,” she said. Between 1pm and 2pm, over 100 patients were rushed to Sion Hospital.

Panic spread in areas like Shastri Nagar, Shahu Nagar and Lokmanya Tilak Nagar in Dharavi, as children started to complain of giddiness, breathlessness, vomiting, burning eyes and fainting. Saratum Nissar dragged her 19 –year old son to Sion hospital, on Firday, to show his skin allergy after many of his friends were admitted with more serious symptoms, “His friends just put some colour on him that he washed immediately. Later in the evening I learned that most of them had vomited and fainted and were admitted in the hospital. He developed a skin allergy but I though we must see a doctor,” she said. While the parents were unaware of the reasons they demanding that the guilty be punished, “If a shopkeeper has sold adulterated colour- he must be punished. And if there was some person who intentionally put some toxic material in children’s colour then the police should treat him like a criminal- this is not prank, our children are in hospital!” father of a patient said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, on Friday ordered a high-level probe into the tragedy and visited the Sion Hospital where most those taken ill were admitted. State women and child welfare minister Varsha Gaikwad, Member of Parliament Eknath Gaikwad and state health minister Suresh Shetty visited them in hospital. The high-level probe committee is headed by Medical Education Secretary IS Chahal and includes Maharashtra Pollution Control Board member Milind Mhaiskar, Food and Drugs Authority Commissioner Mahesh Zagde, Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar and a high ranking police official. The panel will submit its report within a fortnight.

Meanwhile, Dharavi police registered an FIR against unknown persons for causing harm by dangerous means, voluntarily causing hurt and mischief under sections 337, 338, 324, 325 and 425 of the Indian Penal Code. “There is a major leather tanning industry in Dharavi,” said assistant commissioner of police Prabhakar Satam. “It is possible that some children mistook leftover tanning dye for Holi colours and traded in it.”

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