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Poisonous cassava meal leaves child dead, another in hospital

By John Shilitsa | March 13th 2017
A hybrid cassava that has been developed by Professor Mathews Dida (right) of Tom Mboya University that are resistant to striga weed in his practical garden at Maseno University on June 27,2016. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)

A three-year-old child has died and another is fighting for her life after they ate poisonous cassava in Eshirembe village, Butere sub-county.

The surviving child, five-year-old Belinda Juma, is admitted at St Mary's Mission Hospital in Mumias.

Florence Ameyo started vomiting moments after eating the meal and died before arriving at the hospital.

"We took both to a nearby health centre but we were referred to St Mary's. Unfortunately my daughter died before we could get there," said their mother, Pauline Mirikau.

Ms Mirikau said she borrowed the cassava from a neighbour but after cooking it, was reluctant to serve it because it tasted very bitter.

"I went to a nearby shopping centre to buy bread only to find the children feasting on the cassava. Later, they began vomiting and complaining of stomach aches," she told journalists.

Doctors at the hospital said the older girl was out of danger.

"She is responding well to treatment and could be discharged in a couple of weeks," said Phaustine Lungatsu, the doctor in charge.

Area chief Aggrey Maina said investigations were ongoing to establish whether the cassava was poisoned before being cooked.

"It is a shocking incident. We encourage people to seek advice from agriculture extension officers on where to get certified cassava seed to avert similar tragedies," he said.

Elsewhere, a man was burnt beyond recognition in his house in Kakoi village, Malava constituency.

The fire is suspected to have been started by a lit cigarette and engulfed the whole house as the man slept soundly.

Relatives of the victim, Zakayo Asman, 35, said he appeared drunk before he went to bed on Friday night.

Frantic efforts by villagers to rescue him failed as they found the door had been locked from the inside.

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