MUMBAI: A 13-year-old boy died and 235 people, mostly children, continued to be in hospital Friday after they mistook a chemical dye to be Holi colour, officials here said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who ordered a high-level probe into the tragedy and visited the Sion Hospital where most those taken ill were admitted, said the dye got absorbed through the skin, leading to breathlessness and affecting haemoglobin levels among other symptoms.
"The hospital medicos responded well and immediately procured an antidote to treat the patients," Chavan said, appreciating the prompt action by the hospital.
He was accompanied by Health Minister Suresh Shetty and Minister for Women and Child Welfare Varsha Gaekwad.
Vikas Valmiki from Ghatkopar died late Thursday. He was rushed to hospital with severe symptoms of colour allergy but doctors could do little to save him, according to an official at the Dharavi police station.
Of the 235 people affected by the dye in Dharavi, Sion and Ghatkopar areas of central Mumbai, 210 were taken to the Sion Hospital and 25 to the Rajawadi Hospital and other smaller hospitals in the vicinity.
Sion Hospital Dean Sandhya Kamat told reporters that of the total 210 patients admitted there, 209 continued to remain under treatment, including three under observation in the intensive care unit.
"One patient was allowed to go Friday morning as he had to appear for his higher secondary school examinations. We shall take a decision on discharging the other patients after examining their condition later in the afternoon," Kamat said.
Kamat said no new patients had been admitted after 11 p.m. last night.
The high-level probe committee is headed by Medical Education Secretary I.S. Chahal and includes Maharashtra Pollution Control Board member Milind Mhaiskar, Food and Drugs Authority Commissioner Mahesh Zagde, Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar and a high ranking police official. The panel will submit its report within a fortnight.
According to hospital officials, a majority of the victims suffered from giddiness, vomiting, breathlessness, rashes and other symptoms.
Preliminary investigations by police revealed that some slum kids discovered bags of blue colour lying unattended near a garbage dump in Dharavi.
Police and civic officials had issued warnings asking people to stay away from cheap and polluted Holi colours.