Suspected toxic gas downs 50 people in CamNorte town
NAGA CITY, Philippines – At least 50 people, most of them children, got sick in a suspected gas poisoning inside a public elementary school in the town of Basud in Camarines Norte on Wednesday, police reported Thursday.
Senior Superintendent Harris Fama, police provincial director of Camarines Norte, said the Basud police office was alerted about the suspected toxic gas emission in San Felipe Elementary School at about 10 a.m. on June 17.
Fama said that when the responding policemen led by Inspector Ace Juan Flores arrived at the school, they found about 50 pupils and teachers from different levels who were experiencing stomach ache, vomiting and nausea.
He said the foul smell was already gone when policemen got to the school but the victims described the odor as similar to that of a fertilizer or some kind of medicine or chemical that they could not identify.
Fama said they were still verifying the source of the toxic fumes, which was reported to have engulfed the school for about 15 minutes.
The affected pupils and teachers were rushed to the Camarines Norte Provincial Hospital (CNPH) in Daet town for treatment, with nine children requiring hospitalization.
The hospitalized children were diagnosed by CNPH physicians to have suffered from “inhalational intoxication,” according to Fama.
They were identified as Diane Sabocor, 5; Aravela Arciga, 12; Sheraine Trienta, 10; Ruffa Mae Agricula, 10; Collen Mae Boribor, 8; Marian Joy Baroga, 10; Melvin Melanay, 10; John Paul Bibe, 10; and Jobert Sta. Rosa, 11.
Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo A. Tallado, in a phone interview on Thursday, said that as soon as he learned of the poisoning, Wednesday, he instructed the CNPH management to ensure that all the victims be prioritized in treatment. The provincial government also assumed the costs of all the victims’ treatment.
Tallado said he also directed the provincial health office to investigate the alleged poisoning.
Fama said they were also waiting for the results of the blood tests done on the pupils confined at the CNPH to determine the kind of chemical that caused the poisoning, which might lead the police to the culprit.
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