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BBC, TIMES OF INDIA, INDIAN EXPRESS

Worldcrunch

DHARMASATI GANDAMAND - At least 22 children have died from food poisoning after eating a school lunch in this village in eastern India.

The meal was served at a government primary school on Tuesday in Dharmasati Gandamand in the state of of Bihar. The Times of India reports an additional 23 students were taken to hospitals in the nearby towns of Chhapra and Patna in Bihar state, including 10 who were still battling for their lives Wednesday morning.

The children fell ill soon after eating a meal which consisted of rice, pulse legumes and soya bean, police said. The state education minister, PK Shahi, ordered a preliminary investigation, noting that the food was contaminated with traces of phosphorous, reports the BBC.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people began protesting in the Saran district late Tuesday night. Villagers are demanding harsh action against government officials responsible for the tragedy, reports The Indian Express. The Bihar government will offer 200,000 rupees ($3,370) in compensation to the families of each of the dead children.

India's Mid-Day Meal program provides free food to try to boost attendance, but often suffers from poor hygiene. As the food is not checked before being served, dead lizards, frogs, insects and rats were found in the past in the food cooked at schools. Last year, 130 children went to the hospital after being poisoned in Pune in western India.

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