In an incident that has sent shock waves across the district, a nine-year-old girl from Seplanatham village died in Cuddalore government hospital after sharing half-a-litre of Pepsi with her siblings on Sunday night.
Three of her siblings, who also fell ill after drinking the soft-drink, were being treated at JIPMER in Puducherry. Samples of the soft-drink and the food consumed by the children have been sent for tests to ascertain the cause of death.
Anjapuli(32), a labourer from Seplanatham village near Neyveli, had purchased the soft-drink for her daughters Lalitha(10), Abirami(9), Kousalya(6) and son Paramsivam(2) from a local shop. On Sunday night, the children consumed half-a-litre of the beverage. Within a few minutes of consuming the soft-drink, the children started experiencing uneasiness. The children’s worried parents admitted them to a nearby hospital from where they were referred to the Cuddalore GH.
Despite treatment, Abirami died the same night while the other three children were shifted to JIPMER hospital in Puducherry. A team doctors from Cuddalore Government Hospital have also been sent to JIPMER.
Following the fatal incident, shop owner Nagaratinam and the distributor of Pepsi, Babu were arrested on Monday. Following district collector R Kirlosh Kumar’s orders, Babu’s office was sealed and products distributed by him were seized from 40 shops in the area. Apart from samples of the soft-drink consumed by the children, samples of the beverage were also collected from the company’s unit at Mathuranthagam. Cuddalore district Food Safety Officer Raja and his team have been conducting district-wide inspections to check the sale of poor-quality food items from the shops.
Meanwhile, functionaries of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) led by district secretary P Thamarai Selvan staged a road-roko on the Cuddalore-Panruti road seeking compensation for the girl’s family. They also urged the hospital authority to conduct a thorough post-mortem.
Police officers held talks with the agitating crowd who later dispersed.