Doctors give treatments to children with symptoms of possible food poisoning at a hospital in Qiubei County, Thursday. Zuma Press.
Two children died and another 30 were sickened in a mass poisoning at a kindergarten in southwestern China, authorities said Friday.
Investigators identified the toxic substance as a powerful rat poison, but didn’t yet know how it had been ingested Wednesday in the kindergarten in Yunnan province’s rural Qiubei county, according to a statement from the provincial government.
Food served at the school, the Jiajia Kindergarten, has been tested and found to be safe, the statement said. The particular type of poison was outlawed years ago as a threat to human health, but remains in circulation.
State broadcaster CCTV said that the school began accepting students last year despite its not being fully licensed, a common problem in China’s vast and largely impoverished hinterland.
Apart from the victims, aged 4 and 5, six children remained hospitalized while the others had been released and returned home.
It wasn’t clear whether the poisoning was intentional or an accident.
Chinese schools have suffered a series of mass stabbings and other attacks by mentally disturbed people or those bearing grudges. There have also been incidents of staff members’ administering medication without authorization.