x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Workers poisoned by illegal pesticide in Sharjah

The labourers, from Pakistan and Bangladesh, got sick after aluminium phosphide was used in their accommodation in Sharjah's industrial area 12.

SHARJAH // Twelve labourers were treated at hospital yesterday after being exposed to the same illegal pesticide that killed a two-year-old girl earlier this month.

The men from Pakistan and Bangladesh were treated by doctors at Al Qassimi hospital after showing symptoms of poisoning, including severe vomiting and stomach pains.

"The men were working for the same company and residing in industrial area 12," said Dr Khalid Khalfan bin Sabt Al Ali, the deputy technical director of Al Qassimi Hospital.

"They all complained of a strong chemical smell in their room and did not know where it was coming from. One of the workers came to the hospital with capsules he said he had found in an adjacent room."

The capsules were found to be aluminium phosphide, the same dangerous pesticide blamed for the death of little Habiba Hisham earlier this month.

Dr Al Ali said three of the sick men were treated at Al Qassimi hospital and the rest were taken to Kuwait hospital. All 12 will be kept under observation for 48 hours.

He added hospital staff have informed Sharjah police.

A spokesman for Sharjah Municipality said a number of inspectors and pesticide experts took samples from the men's room on Sunday.

"We shall tell the results of the investigation very soon, like we did in Habiba's case," he said.

Habiba died and her brother, Abdul Rahman Hisham, 6, was in a critical condition for almost two weeks after aluminium phosphide was used in a flat opposite their home in Sharjah. Abdul has now been released from hospital.

Police arrested seven Bangladeshi men who turned their flat into a makeshift office and factory to mix the banned chemicals responsible for Habiba's death. Their case has been forwarded to prosecutors.

Officers who raided the unlicensed pest-control company also found a list of customers from receipt bills. All have been contacted to offer assistance, including hospital tests for anyone who may have been exposed to chemicals.

ykakande@thenational.ae