37 Benguet students downed by food poisoning now safe

BAGUIO CITY — The 37 students rushed to the Atok District Hospital on Wednesday afternoon after eating contaminated candies are now out of danger, Buguias Mayor Ruben Tindaan said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Tindaan said first aid was immediately administered to the affected students. Most were declared safe and discharged Wednesday evening.

He, however, said the five high school students who were the last to reach the hospital remain confined but are out of danger. “The hospital staff are still monitoring them and are making them vomit,” he said.

The mayor said the victims consisted of 19 elementary pupils of the Natubleng Elementary School and 18 high schools students of the Natubleng National High School.

He related that the Buguias municipal police, at about 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, received information on scores of students being rushed to the hospital due to suspected food poisoning.

Investigation showed that a Korean couple handed out the apparently contaminated candies to the students, who went out of campus during their recess. Soon after, symptoms such as stomach ache and vomiting began to manifest in the students who ingested the questionable sweets.

It was reported that the couple, said to be missionaries, have been staying in Barangay Bangao for weeks.

Upon investigation, the Koreans claimed that the candies were bought from a local store. The police had already confiscated the remaining candies and submitted them for laboratory testing.

Tindaan pointed out that the Koreans are still in custody, pending results of the laboratory examination and for their own safety.

Initial information received on Wednesday evening said the Koreans were already on board a bus bound for Bontoc, Mountain Province, when flagged down by the police at about 2:49 p.m. in Abatan, Buguias. Dionisio Dennis, Jr/PNA-northboundasia.com