Police in India have confirmed the school meals that killed 23 children last week were poisoned with a pesticide that is not widely available

The magistrate overseeing the police investigation says tests on cooking oil used in the food detected high levels of a chemical commonly found in pesticides, called monocrotophos.

The tests showed the amount of the chemical found was five times higher than that used in commercial pesticides.

The magistrate says it is rare for the chemical to be sold in such a highly concentrated form.

Investigators are yet to determine how the pesticide got into the food at the primary school in the state of Bihar.

Police are still hunting for the school's principal, who fled after the deaths.

The deadly meal was provided to children as part of a government program that gives free food to more than 100 million students.

For years studies of the scheme have found problems with food handling and storage in schools across the country, but little has been done to address the issues.

Critics say authorities have not properly monitored the program.

A senior education officer for the state of Bihar says schools are only inspected if a complaint is made and that no complaints had been made about this particular institution.

 

Advertisement