x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hundreds in vigil for dead children

Mourners gather at St Mary's Church on Oud Metha Road to light candles and say prayers for the two children who died from suspected food poisoning.

A mourner lights a candle at St Mary's Catholic church in Dubai during last night's vigil for Nathan and Chelsea D'Souza, the children who died of suspected food poisoning this month.
A mourner lights a candle at St Mary's Catholic church in Dubai during last night's vigil for Nathan and Chelsea D'Souza, the children who died of suspected food poisoning this month.

DUBAI // Mourners gathered at St Mary's Church on Oud Metha Road last night to light candles and say prayers for the two children who died from suspected food poisoning earlier this month. Chelsea D'Souza, seven, and her five-year-old brother, Nathan, were due to be buried this morning in their mother's native France. Audrey Fonseca, who organised last night's vigil, said several hundred people had come: "It is an unbearable tragedy for a family to lose both children. A lot of people feel the pain of their parents."

She said her daughter, Anoushka, was best friends with Chelsea and had gone to France to attend the funeral. "I had promised her she could go on holiday with them to France and she came crying to me that this would be her last chance," she said. "Most of Chelsea's classmates from school are old enough to really understand what has happened. In Nathan's class some of them are still quite young and it has perhaps not sunk in for all of them, but with the older children they not only know that she has gone but understand why and are reading the newspaper reports.

"The school had its end-of-year performance the other day and you could really feel there was a dark cloud over everyone." The two children and their mother, Anne-Sophie D'Souza, fell ill after eating a Chinese takeaway on the night of Friday, June 12. They were treated at the New Medical Centre Hospital and discharged, but returned after their symptoms worsened. Nathan died that night and his sister two days later.

The case is now being investigated by Dubai Public Prosecution, which is awaiting the results of tests from a laboratory outside the country before deciding whether to bring any charges. gmclenaghan@thenational.ae