ISLAMABAD — The celebration of the birth of a grandson quickly turned into a tragedy for Umar Hayat, a resident of Layyah in Pakistan’s sprawling Punjab province.
Ten people, mostly relatives, died and others were sickened after consuming a baked treat he had purchased and handed out to mark the occasion.
Hayat bought treats from a local sweetshop on April 17 to distribute among friends and family at a gathering in his home. But celebrations turned to pandemonium as the people who ate the sweets quickly fell ill.
Five people lost their lives on the spot, according to local news reports, and by that evening 10 had died. Dozens more were admitted to various hospitals in the region.
According to local police officials, the death toll from the tainted confectionary had risen to at least 23 on Monday, with another 52 victims still undergoing hospital treatment for poisoning. Some reports suggested as many as 25 were dead.
Among the dead were the newborn boy’s father and seven of his uncles.
Police have raided and sealed the sweetshop where the deadly confectionery was bought and have arrested two owners and an employee.
The investigation thus far points toward an employee inadvertently adding agricultural pesticide — which was allegedly being stored against regulations at the bakery — to the sweet mix, however no conclusive statements by officials handling the case have been provided.