SCHOOL CLOSINGS AND DELAYS

Party turns tragic after man hands out baked treats to celebrate grandson’s birth

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Twenty-six people, many of them from a single family, are dead after ingesting sweets that had been mixed with pesticide, Pakistani officials said.

Dozens more have been hospitalized.

Dr. Taha Salman, a visiting doctor in Layyah, said the patients need to be transferred to Lahore or Karachi medical centers because the local hospital doesn’t have the capability to pump their stomachs.

Umer Hayat bought five kilograms (about 11 pounds) of laddu, a ball-shaped confection of dough and sugar, from Tariq Hotel & Sweet in the village of Karor Lal Esan, said Layyah District Coordination Officer Rana Gulzar. The village, in the Layyah district of Punjab province, sits about 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Lahore.

Twenty-six people, many of them from a single family, died after eating “laddus,” a traditional baked treat, brought to the party by the grandfather of the boy whose birth was being celebrated.

The sweets were to celebrate the birth of Hayat’s grandson, Abdullah, but recipients of the treats began falling ill Thursday, Gulzar said.

Hayat is in critical condition in a hospital, and six brothers, one sister and two children in his family have died after eating the laddu. The newborn’s father, Muhammad Sajjad, is among the ill.

Investigators say the shopkeeper’s servant has acknowledged he accidentally mixed pesticide into the laddu, Gulzar said.

The pesticide detected in the sweets is banned in Pakistan, and shops are not permitted to sell it, he said, but Muhammad Ali, who lives in the area, told CNN it’s widely available and is used to make poison for crops.

The shop has been closed down, and the owners, two brothers, have been taken into custody, Gulzar said.

The Punjab Food Authority is looking into the matter.

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