2 dead, 12 hospitalized after eating wild cassava

Arianne Apatan, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Feb 10 2014 07:01 PM | Updated as of Feb 11 2014 03:01 AM

COTABATO CITY -- Two children died while twelve others, all members of a Lumad community, were hospitalized after eating wild cassava in Sitio Ambag, Barangay Sto. Niño in Kidapawan City.

The fatalities were identified as Irene Diarog, 4, and her sister, Jessica, 3, both residents of Sitio Ambag.

According to Psalmer Bernalte of Kidapawan City Public Safety Division, six people are still confined at the New Cebu District Hospital in Barangay New Cebu, President Roxas in North Cotabato.

They were identified as Ronalyn Almadin and her sister Renalyn, Alvin Diarog and siblings Arnel, Honey, and Sarah.

Other patients were identified as Ronnie Almadin, Archie Diarog, Ronalyn Ambag, Jaya Ambag, John Rey Sandigan, and Joshua John Embac, all residents of Barangay Sto. Niño.

According to Bernalte, the victims, who belonged to Manobo tribe, have eaten the same wild cassava tubers prepared for their meal.

"Nakuha kasi yun ng mga bata sa tabing ilog, hinukay, kinuha, dinala sa mga bahay-bahay, saka nilaga at kinain in the afternoon. Kinagabihan dun na sumakit mga tiyan nila," said Bernalte.

Kidapawan City Health Office already sent samples of the variety of cassava to the Department of Health (DOH) for toxicity test.

City health officials said the root crop contains hydrocyanic acid or hydrogen cyanide, which is considered dangerous. Improper preparation of the root crop could lead to cyanide poisoning, according to the Bureau of Plant and Industry.

Several studies also indicate that cyanide, which is used in metal operations and an ingredient of pest killer and cigarette, is said to be one of the deadliest poisons in the world.