Sharjah Police to start awareness campaign on pesticides 4 people and the watchman arrested
Sharjah-UAE: July 3, 2013 – Sharjah Police, who caught the criminals, is cooperating with numerous authorities to investigate the case of the family which was affected by the toxic pesticide and resulted in the death of an 11 year old girl. Medical reports stated that the proof gathered from the patients and the apartments on Friday morning June 28th reveal that the cause was an illegal toxic pesticide called Phostoxin/ P Hostoxin.
Details of the incident
On Saturday evening June 29th, an Iraqi family was hospitalized at the Al Qassimi Hospital, where the mother and her 11 year old daughter were found in critical condition and were immediately placed in the intensive care unit (ICU). Doctors suspected a case of food poisoning and upon medical examination the cases were diagnosed as toxic chemical poisoning.
Sharjah Police Office received a phone call on Sunday June 30th reporting that a family was brought to the hospital suffering from acute symptoms of poisoning, and that an 11 year old girl, Farah Ebrahim, died on Monday morning July 1st due to heart failure.
Dr. Saqer Al Mualla, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Head of Plastic Surgery, Al Qassimi Hospital stated that first the mother and her daughter were hospitalized showing symptoms such as stomach pain. The mother was released on her own will and returned with the family to the hospital the very next day (Saturday 29th) with a worsened health condition of all members. In case of a pesticide poisoning the situation is unpredictable and it results in failure of heart (muscle cells die and cause weakening of heart function), kidney and the lung as the last organs affected. The eleven year old girl died due to heart failure on Monday morning (July 1st), the mother is still in coma, all other family members are well but under continuous observation.”
He continued: “This pesticide is usually imported from Asian countries like India, Pakistan and China. The freight is using the tablets to eradicate insects.”
Based on what was mentioned by the hospital, the relevant authorities of Sharjah Police embarked on an investigation about the circumstances of the incident, where a team of senior police officers in Sharjah, forensic experts and a general health inspector of the Sharjah Municipality went to the residence of the family in order to collect evidence and identify the cause and origin of the occurrence.
The team from the Criminal Investigation Department and the general health inspector Yaser Bakhet were confronted with a strong odour emanating from the apartment of the family.
Colonel Dr. Sami Al Halyan from the Forensic Department at Sharjah Police suspected a chemical that is used illegally as a pesticide, where this was confirmed by the findings of Dr. Moutisim Ibrahim Suleyman Al Qasim, Poison and Toxic Expert at Sharjah Police.
After inspecting the scene and questioning the management of the building, and a number of government officials from departments responsible for residential affairs, Dr. Sami Al Halyan said the Police found out that the origin of the toxic which reached the Iraqi family on the 11th floor was located on the 12th floor.
The tenant of the apartment on the 12th floor identified as an Indian expatriate, has been suffering for a long period of time from insects in his apartment. The Police has been told by the tenant and the watchman of the building, that the building management was contacted and the Indian tenant advised to deal with it himself (despite the fact that each residential unit's management holds an arrangement with a pesticide company to protect tenants from its health risks).
After contacting the watchman of the building and inquiring about possible ways for purchasing pesticides, the watchman told the tenant that he will provide him with the pesticides himself, where he purchased them from acquaintances. The sellers, with full knowledge about the extent of the pesticides' toxicity, sold them to the tenant for AED 200, where the initial purchase by the watchman was for AED 120.
Findings of Lieutenant Ahmed Al Hamadi, Head of the Print and Publishing Department at Sharjah Police and Dr. Moutisim Ibrahim Suleyman Al Qasim, indicate that on Thursday June 27th, the inexperienced tenant treated his apartment with the pesticides, placing two tablets in each room in order to get rid of the insects.
After opening and inspecting the apartment a large number of tablets (18-20) of phosphide aluminium located in different areas (legally prohibited) were found.
The poison reached the apartment of the Iraqi family in form of gas (aluminium phosphide turns in a timeframe of around four hours when in contact with humidity into phosphane gas) through the ventilation pipes and an exhaust hole located in the kitchen of the family.
Phosphine is defined (IUPAC name phosphane) as a colorless, flammable, toxic gas. Pure phosphine is odorless, but technical grade samples have a highly unpleasant odor like garlic or rotting fish.
Lieutenant Ahmed Al Hamadi said: “This toxic pesticide has approximately 6-7 commercial names. In this case we identified the toxic through its typical chemical formula that defines it as a toxic pesticide. This toxic which turned into gas is not controllable, as it vanishes once inhaled. For example, the use of 2-3 tablets is enough to eradicate all insects and affect a grain amount of more than 5 tonnes.”
Al Hamadi further stated: “Any pesticide company is controlled by the Municipality with strict regulations. Toxic pesticides which are not legalised cannot be used by those companies.”
Further cases have been discovered that include an Emirati family on the 12th floor (currently under medical observation).
Al Hamadi said: “Our investigations currently focus on the ventilation system within the building to possibly evacuate units as a precautionary measure”.
Sharjah Police calls on all residents in case of facing such an incident, to immediately open doors, expose themselves to open areas rich of oxygen and to call the paramedics and police immediately on 999. Additionally, helping in providing the police with any information which would save people, especially children who are prone to being affected the most, will be greatly appreciated.
Preparations for an awareness campaign in collaboration with Sharjah Media Centre are up and running, aiming at targeting authorities, the community, residential buildings and the media, in addition to identifying the root of the syndicate selling these illegal and lethal toxins.
Sharjah Police thanks all concerned authorities who made their best efforts to uncover the circumstances of the case through their provision of all the necessary requirements and for making the necessary medical tests for all the families members.