Nearly 300 Pupils Taken Ill in Karen State After Drinking Water Scare

By Yen Saning & Min Khant Paing 24 September 2015

RANGOON — Almost 300 students from a middle school in eastern Burma’s Karen State fell ill on Wednesday after drinking water sourced from a local pond.

Seventy students were admitted to Kawkareik General Hospital and 62 to Kyone Doe General Hospital, a doctor from the former facility confirmed. All of the hospitalized students are expected to return home within 24 hours.

Those taken ill are pupils at Tayattaw Village middle school in Kawkareik Township’s Kyone Doe. The school provided water to the 299 enrolled students that was sourced from a nearby natural pond and taken to each classroom in buckets.

“The students felt dizzy and were vomiting. Some had stomachaches,” a doctor from Kawkareik General Hospital, who did not wished to be named, told The Irrawaddy.

“Now, almost all of them are fine. There are no causalities. The water from the school has been sent to a laboratory in Rangoon through Phann Hospital.”

Some locals speculated that the pond may have been contaminated with chemicals used to kill or stun fish.

“We have not opened a case yet,” Police Inspector Aung Myint Win from Kyone Doe Police Station said. “What we have done is sent the water to a Rangoon laboratory through a state health officer… We have also sent a telegraph to the Ministry of Home Affairs. After the medical records are confirmed, we will proceed according to instructions.”

Ohmar Moe, a grade six student who was admitted to hospital, said her condition was improving.

“When I drank from the drinking pond at school I [soon] felt sick. I was first admitted to Kyone Doe Hospital, then to Kawkariek General Hospital as my situation was worrisome. I am getting better now,” she said.

Nai Soe Myint, secretary-1 of the Mon National Party, was among a group of party officials that visited Kawkareik hospital on Thursday.

“They are to be discharged within 24 hours. It’s said the water was poisoned in an effort to catch fish,” he said.