Mon, 22 Mar 1999

Factory workers poisoned

TANGERANG (JP): At least 155 workers of towel producer PT Indah Jaya at Gandasari in Jatiuwung here were hastily rushed to Tangerang General Hospital on Thursday for food poisoning.

The employees had no idea how they became ill, but a doctor at the hospital said he believed food consumed the previous night at the factory's canteen was the cause.

Initially, many of the workers thought they were coming down with a common cold. Some had dizzy spells.

Some turned up for work as usual on Friday, only to be admitted to the hospital in a serious condition later.

According to the workers, they all had stomachaches, diarrhea and started vomiting a few hours after eating food provided by the factory's three canteens on Wednesday.

"I felt pains in my stomach, I vomited and had diarrhea at about 2:30 a.m. on Thursday," Aris, one of the workers still being treated at the hospital on Thursday evening, said.

The workers were taken to the hospital's emergency unit upon arrival.

"We then gave them intravenous feeding and norit (oral rehydration solution) to avoid dehydration," doctor Muhammad Rifky from the hospital said.

Rifky believes the workers ate contaminated food. However, he added that the medical staff could not identify the kind of food consumed by the employees.

"The food and medicine supervisory body of the Ministry of Health should study the case," he added.

He said on Friday that 53 workers had been allowed to go home after treatment, while the others remained at the hospital for treatment.

Witnesses said at least 1,000 workers were working the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift when the incident occurred. (41/jun)