Suspected food poisoning kills 11 at Indian temple ceremony

NEW DELHI — Police on Saturday arrested three people after at least 11 died of suspected food poisoning following a ceremony to celebrate the construction of a new Hindu temple in southern India.

Police officer Musharraf said that more than 130 sick people were recovering from poisoning in various hospitals in Chamarajnagar district of Karnataka state. The area is 180 kilometers (110 miles) south of Bangalore, the state capital.

Musharraf, who uses one name, said that Hindu devotees ate contaminated cooked vegetables and rice on Friday. They immediately started vomiting, complained of severe stomach pain and were taken to nearby hospitals.

Musharraf said eight of those hospitalized were in critical condition.

He said three members of the temple's management have been arrested and samples of the food sent for chemical analysis.

Murege Swamy, who attended the temple ceremony, said "they were giving us some offerings at the temple. It had a weird smell. When we asked what that was, they told us it is because of leaves in the offering."

"As soon as we ate that, me and my friends felt a sharp pain in our stomachs and started puking," Swamy said.

Sangeeta, who uses only one name, said she was lucky that she didn't eat anything at the temple.

"Only a few were OK, but everyone else was vomiting immediately," she said.

Cases of food poisoning killing multiple people has been a problem in India. In 2013, 22 children died in a school in the eastern state of Bihar after eating food tainted with a pesticide that had been stored in a cooking oil container.

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