Sat, 10 Jul 2004

Food poisoning claims 101 victims

Slamet Susanto, Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta

Health centers and a hospital in Samigaluh district, Kulonprogo regency, admitted 101 people from Wednesday to Thursday for suspected food poisoning, all of whom had attended a wedding reception in Banjarsari subdistrict here.

As of Friday afternoon, 50 people were still receiving treatment at a local hospital for food poisoning; the other 51 residents had already been discharged.

The incident began on Wednesday when dozens of Banjarsari residents pitched in to help Tukiman, 55, prepare dishes for Thursday's reception, which he was hosting.

Partiyem, one of the helpers, said she and a few others had tasted some of the food they had cooked.

On Wednesday afternoon, at least eight people felt dizzy and vomited repeatedly just after eating some of the wedding food, and went home to rest and recover.

Most people, particularly the host, were unaware that the eight had suffered from food poisoning, so Tukiman went ahead with the wedding reception as planned.

The disaster continued on Thursday when, after the party, the guests went one by one to the Samigaluh community health center for medical treatment. Most of them were vomiting and suffering from dizziness.

Partiyem said more and more people came to the health center seeking treatment throughout the day, so that it could not accommodate any more patients. The wedding guests thus went to a hospital in Samigaluh district.

Karti recalled that she still felt well after she had eaten at the reception at noon on Thursday, but that afternoon, she began feeling dizzy and vomiting, and had to go to the toilet repeatedly.

"I was scared, so I went to the community health center, where I was then told by a staffer that I had to go to Bhakti Husodo Hospital for medical treatment," she said. Due to limited space, however, some residents had to rest on the floor.

Health development head Bambang Haryatno at the Kulonprogo Health Office said the hospital had used 600 intravenous feeding bottles for the ill-fated wedding guests.

"We have obtained samples of the food and are running tests in our laboratory to determine whether the food was the cause of the incident," he said on Friday.