x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Forensic investigators rule out pesticides in death of boy, 9

The mystery surrounding the death of a nine-year-old boy deepened yesterday when forensic officers ruled out poisoning by pesticides or other chemical toxins.

DUBAI // The mystery surrounding the death of a nine-year-old boy deepened yesterday when forensic officers ruled out poisoning by pesticides or other chemical toxins.

Awad Firoz Khan was declared dead on arrival at Al Baraha Hospital on Saturday after being taken there with his parents and his brother Azeem, 15, who were all suffering dizziness, nausea and diarrhoea.

Police at first suspected food poisoning, but when this was ruled out by Dubai Municipality this week, they investigated the family's fears that recent pest-control spraying at their neighbour's house was to blame.

Toxicology reports released yesterday ruled out pesticide poisoning. A spokesman for Dubai Police CID said the test also ruled out "poisoning due to any chemical substance".

Police carried out four tests on the boy's body to determine the cause of death, but apart from ruling out pesticides and other chemicals, they were inconclusive.

Officers are still awaiting the result of a bacterial test.

"We have taken samples from several parts of the body, including the boy's kidney and abdomen and, carried out a transplant to determine if the death was caused by a bacterial poisoning," the CID spokesman said.

That test could yet show that food poisoning was the cause of death, despite the municipality ruling it out. But it could also suggest other reasons.

"Food poisoning is determined by this bacterial test, but bacterial poisoning does not necessarily have to come from food," said the spokesman.

But he warned that proof of bacterial poisoning dissolved quickly, leading to the possibility that the cause of Awad's death may never be known.

The result of the bacterial test is expected next week.

The Khan family said yesterday they had not been informed of the forensics report and did not want to jump to conclusions.

"It will take the police time to investigate and to be 100 per cent sure what happened," said Awad's father Firoz, a manager at a cargo company in Dubai. "They have asked us to wait."

However, Mr Khan said the family remained "quite sure" that pesticides sprayed at their neighbour's house were to blame.

"We want to know the truth," he said. "If it is not food poisoning, what is the reason for the death?"

The family ate at a popular fried-chicken restaurant that was Awad's favourite the day before being taken to hospital.

"He loves to eat there but we usually never allow him to since it is not healthy," Mr Khan said. "We used to go there once in a blue moon and even then did not allow him eat too much."

He ruled out the possibility that the restaurant could be to blame.

"If it was food poisoning the symptoms would have occurred immediately," said Mr Khan.

He said the family was trying hard to put up a brave front.

"We are walking around trying to be artificially brave. We have always been a very close family," Mr Khan said.

On Wednesday, Awad's school, Al Noor Training Centre, remembered the boy at a concert he was supposed to have taken part in.

"He was rehearsing hard," said Mr Khan. "He was very interested in music and songs. He would always want to be sung to before he went to sleep."

wissa@thenational.ae

pkannan@thenational.ae