x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Emirati mother and child die on first day of Sri Lankan holiday

The UAE has sent a team of forensic investigators to determine the cause of death, which Sri Lankan doctors suspect may have been caused by food poisoning.

ABU DHABI // A young Emirati family’s dream holiday to Sri Lanka turned deadly on Tuesday, less than 17 hours after they had landed in Colombo.

Mohammad Ali Obaid Al Mazroui, a 23-year-old policeman from Wadi Koob in Ras Al Khaimah, remains in intensive care but both his 14-month-old son and his 22-year-old wife were declared dead on Tuesday evening at Hemas Hospital in Wattala.

The reason for their deaths remains unclear. While the UAE embassy in Colombo reported that the deaths were a result of severe food poisoning, police in the Sri Lankan capital said they were investigating the possibility that pesticides sprayed in the hotel room adjacent to the Al Mazrouis’ room might have been to blame.

A team of UAE police officials and doctors travelled to Sri Lanka yesterday to investigate the deaths.

A post-mortem examination was held yesterday at the North Colombo Teaching Hospital, and Sri Lankan police said they expected the results to be available today.

The family of three arrived in Sri Lanka on an Etihad flight at 5am on Tuesday. According to their tour guide, Mr Lakshman, the family made their way from the airport to the nearby Ramada Katunayake hotel in Seeduwa.

After reporting that they were not feeling well, they were taken to a general hospital and treated with IV fluids. Mr Lakshman told doctors the family then left the hospital against medical advice and returned to their hotel.

Later in the evening, hotel staff asked the tour guide to return and take them back to a different hospital because the child, Ali Mohammed Al Mazroui, was very sick.

“They were brought to our emergency room by their guide in a critical condition,” said Dr Samanthi De Silva, the head of medical services at Hemas Hospital in Wattala, Colombo. “The child was not responding, unconscious and with no blood pressure. We tried to revive him but he was declared dead at 9pm.”

His mother, Dalal Ali Saif Obaid Al Mazroui, died about 45 minutes later.

A representative of the UAE embassy in Colombo said they believed food poisoning was to blame for the deaths, but were not sure what the source of the poisoning might have been.

He added: “The ambassador and other diplomats stayed with the father in the hospital all night. And the relatives of the family flew in this morning.”

Addressing the idea that food poisoning might have caused the deaths, Dr De Silva said that the hospital had been told the family did not eat any food in Sri Lanka. “Their last meal was on the plane,” she said, “as well as some food they brought with them from home.”

Police in Colombo said yesterday that they were also investigating the possibility that pesticide sprayed in the hotel room next door could be to blame.

“We have sealed the room for investigations,” said Ajith Rohana, a police spokesman.

The hotel declined to comment on the matter.

News of the deaths came as a shock to the mountain village of Wadi Koob, a community of about 70 families. Mohammed and his wife lived there with his parents and siblings, as per Emirati tradition.

“Those people are kind people, they are good people,” said Abdullah Saif, 28, a resident of Wadi Koob. “All the people here in Wadi Koob they are sad – everybody was sad when they heard about Mohammed and his family. Everybody is praying for Mohammed and his family.”

Mohammed and Dalal had been married for about two years. Family members said Dalal’s brother and three of Mohammed’s uncles and had flown to Sri Lanka but his parents were too upset to travel and “cannot believe” the deaths.

“You cannot describe their situation right now,” said Saif Saeed, 35, a close relative. “They still are not believing what has happened suddenly like this.”

newsdesk@thenational.ae