5 siblings who died after consuming 'toxic food' in Karachi laid to rest in Balochistan

Updated February 23, 2019

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Funeral prayers of the five siblings, who died after allegedly consuming toxic food in Karachi, take place in the Khanozai area of Balochistan on Saturday. — Photo provided by author
Funeral prayers of the five siblings, who died after allegedly consuming toxic food in Karachi, take place in the Khanozai area of Balochistan on Saturday. — Photo provided by author

Five siblings who died after allegedly consuming toxic food in Karachi were buried in the Khanozai area of Balochistan's northern district Pishin on Saturday.

According to Superintendent of Police (SP) Gulshan Tahir Noorani, the siblings — between the ages of 1.5 years and 10 — their parents, and their paternal aunt had consumed food from Naubahar restaurant in the Saddar area.

The children passed away on Friday. Their aunt, who was in a critical condition, passed away on Saturday morning.

"I have been told that my sister has also passed away," father of the deceased children Faisal Akhundzada Kakar told media before the funeral.

SSP South Pir Mohammed Shah confirmed the news of her death.

A teary Kakar said that the cause of their deaths must be ascertained.

The bodies of the children were brought to Quetta airport on a navy plane on Friday, where they were received by Kakar's family members as well as provincial ministers, including Health Minister Naseebullah Marri and Zamarak Khan Achakzai of the Awami National Party (ANP).

A large number of people attended the funeral prayers for the siblings, who were buried in Kakar's ancestral graveyard in the Khanozi area.

"Please avoid 'breaking news' for the sake of broken families since tickers flashing on TV channels had [a] psychological impact on my wife," Kakar requested the media.

Police relying on lab findings to ascertain exact cause of death

Naubahar and another restaurant — Student Biryani — which supplied food to the eatery have been sealed for investigation, said SSP South Pir Mohammad Shah.

He said that they detained several employees from both the restaurants and some staff of Qasr-e-Naz — a government lodge where the family was staying. They were released after recording their statements. He noted that so far no first investigation reports (FIR) have been registered.

He added that he was in touch with Kakar over the phone and had asked him to give a statement, even if it was through WhatsApp, for the FIR to be lodged.

"Police are now solely relying on findings of the labs to ascertain the exact cause of death, which determine the course of [the] investigation," observed the officer.

Post-mortem examination of all five children was conducted at Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi on Friday and the body viscera would be sent to Lahore.

The SSP South disclosed that they could not send the children's autopsy reports to Lahore’s forensic laboratory yet as it was the weekend. Therefore, the body viscera have been kept at cold storage for preservation, which would be sent to Lahore on Monday.

Children pronounced dead on arrival at hospital

SSP Shah earlier told Dawn that the children’s mother started vomiting and fell down inside the bathroom at around 3:30am on Friday at Qasr-e-Naz.

Her husband assumed that she has suffered a heart attack and immediately took her to Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) where she was administered first aid.

When the couple returned at around 9am, they were shocked to find that two of their children were already dead and three others were in an unconscious state. Their aunt was also barely able to speak.

Kakar then took his five children and sister to AKUH again at around 10am where all children were pronounced dead.

Quoting the doctors, the SSP said that the children were already dead around half an hour before their arrival at the AKUH.

He said that the children’s mother was saved ostensibly due to timely treatment.

The father said that his family had also had lunch at a friend's home in Balochistan's Khuzdar area earlier in the day, before consuming chips and juice in Hub. The family hails from Quetta and according to the SSP, Kakar is a landlord in Balochistan.