PATNA, India, July 20 (Reuters) - An initial forensic report
has confirmed that the free school lunch that killed 23 children
this week in India's eastern state of Bihar was contaminated
with a pesticide, a senior police official said on Saturday.
The children fell ill within minutes of eating a meal of
rice and potato curry in their one-room school on Tuesday,
vomiting and convulsing with agonising stomach cramps.
The deaths sparked protests in Bihar. The lunch was part of
India's Mid-Day Meal Scheme that covers 120 million children and
aims to tackle malnutrition and encourage school attendance. It
had already drawn widespread complaints over food safety.
The report found the meal was prepared with cooking oil that
contained monocrotophos, an organophosphorus compound that is
used as an agricultural pesticide, Ravindra Kumar, a senior
police official, told reporters.
Police said on Friday they suspected the oil was kept in a
container previously used to store the pesticide. They are still
looking for the headmistress of the school, who fled after the
The World Health Organisation describes monocrotophos as
(Reporting by Annie Banerji; Additional reporting by Anurag
Kotoky in New Delhi; Writing by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by
Jo Winterbottom and Raissa Kasolowsky)