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Poisonous Insecticide Found in Oil Used in Meal that Left 23 Children Dead in India: Report

Update Date: Jul 20, 2013 09:05 PM EDT

A forensic report following the death of 23 school children that died in India after eating lunch provided by the school, was due to a "highly toxic" concentrated form of insecticide that was in the oil, a forensic report and police said.

The children died after eating lentils, potatoes and rice cooked at the school last Tuesday with oil containing an agricultural insecticide that was five times the strength sold in the market place, according to the Associated Press.

Ravindra Kumar, the additional director general of police in the city of Patna, told reporters that forensic tests revealed that the samples contained the pesticide monocrotophos in levels that were "very toxic" for humans.

"The report has found organophosphorus in oil samples collected from the school where the midday meal was prepared and consumed by the children," Ravinder Kumar, a senior police officer, told reporters in Bihar state capital Patna.

"It was observed by the scientists of the Forensic Science Laboratory. The poisonous substance in the oil samples was more than five times the (concentration of the) commercial preparation available in the market," Kumar added.

The children that died tragically from the contaminated food, aged four to 12, were buried on a playing field adjacent to the primary school that served the free school lunch.

India's midday meal plan is one of the world's biggest school nutrition programs. State governments can decide on menus and timings of the meals, depending on local conditions and availability of food rations.

It is seen as an incentive for poor parents to send their children to school and currently covers some 120 million children across the country.

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