DUBAI // More than 200 mourners gathered at St Mary's Catholic Church yesterday to remember two children who died of suspected food poisoning a year ago, with questions still lingering over the tragedy. Patrick D'Souza and his wife Ann Sofia were consoled by friends and colleagues during the hour-long evening mass for their son Nathan and daughter Chelsea, who died aged five and seven respectively after eating a takeaway meal.
Mourners were given a pamphlet with pictures of the two children smiling accompanied by the words: "Our darling Chelsea & Nathan, we thought of you today, but that is nothing new, we thought of you yesterday and will tomorrow too." Mr D'Souza said life remained difficult. "We are trying to move on," he said. "We're just trying to go on with life." His wife is now pregnant - something his brother Chris said offered them a "cause for hope". Chris D'Souza added that since the incident, "hopefully the authorities will get much tighter about such cases".
His sentiment was echoed by some others at the ceremony. "Even though a year has passed, we can't forget these children," said Lynette Ferrao, a family friend. "People want to know what exactly went wrong. What happened?" The children were taken to the New Medical Centre Specialty Hospital on June 12 by their mother and the family's housekeeper. They had eaten food delivered by the Lotus Garden, a Chinese restaurant in Al Qusais. They were treated and later discharged. Nathan was rushed back to the hospital the following morning after his condition worsened, but was pronounced dead on arrival. His sister was then moved to Dubai Hospital but died a day later.
A Nepalese cook, TR, 26, and his Filipino supervisor, ES, 34, were charged on March 1, along with the Lotus Garden restaurant, in connection with the case. Prosecutors claim that unhygienic storage of food by restaurant staff led to the deaths. Dubai Municipality recently said exhaustive measures had been taken to prevent a repeat of the tragedy, including improved training for staff at restuarants and other food establishments.