Family suspected poisoned

Published on Jan 16 2010 // Human Rights Monitor

January 16, 2009: Suspected aconite (tsendu) poisoning of food hospitalized the family of officer in command of Lhuentse police, Major Tashi Tobgay, on January 8.

At 10 that morning, Kunzang Lhamo, the OC’s mother, was rushed to the dzongkhag hospital after she complained of stomach disorder, vomiting and weakness. According to the OC’s wife, Dawa Dema, her mother-in-law became sick half an hour after she ate her breakfast of rice that was cooked on the previous night.

Apart from Kunzang Lhamo, none of the family members had breakfast that morning.

At around 1.30 pm, Dawa Dema and her two daughters, along with their neighbour, Tenzinla, ate the same rice for lunch.

Sometime after lunch, the eldest daughter suffered from blurred vision, nausea and weakness. She could barely return home from hospital where she had gone to reach clothes for her grandmother. Upon reaching home, she fell into a coma. Meanwhile, the second daughter started showing similar symptoms. She too fainted.

Soon, Dawa Dema showed similar signs of being poisoned. She also fainted just after telling the constable on duty to inform her husband.

“My eyesight gradually blurred until I could see nothing,” said Dawa Dema. “I could only hear the voices of a couple holding me.” Soon after, Tenzinla was hospitalized.

Dawa Dema said that the rice they ate for lunch looked darker and tasted a little bitter. According to the couple, since their kitchen is separate from their living block, they usually keep it unlocked. That is why they suspect that somebody had poisoned the rice on the night of January 7.

The OC claims that his family suffered from a similar illness after drinking suja on January 4. That night, OC was admitted to hospital.

Hospital sources said that their fifth patient, Tenzinla, was treated for suspected aconite poisoning. The hospital consulted a medical specialist in the national referral hospital in Thimphu who advised that Tenzinla be treated for aconite poisoning.

All the patients were referred to Mongar Regional Referral Hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, samples of vomit and urine have been submitted to Mongar police for forensic tests. All the family members, except Kuenzang Lhamo, have fully recovered. Aconite is known as the queen of poisons.

(From Bhutan Observer)