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Fateful meal: Girl, 6, dies after eating staple food

A 6-year-old girl died and five girls became seriously ill after eating cassava with their family on Friday morning, Kampong Chhnang officials said.

The girls’ aunt had cooked cassava harvested from the plantation she worked on and shared the dish with 14 members of her family. None of the adults got sick.

“At about 5pm on the same day, the six girls, aged between 4 and 7, started vomiting,” Seng Dy, police chief in Boribor district’s Chhnok Trou commune, said yesterday.

The girls were referred to the provincial hospital, where 6-year-old Lai Chanlis died. Only her 4-year-old sister remains hospitalised.

According to Seng Dy, the family ate the cassava because they are poor and didn’t know the plant could be poisonous.

Cassava, a staple starch in much of the world, can cause cyanide poisoning if not prepared properly. However, a cause of death has yet to be confirmed, according to the Sorin Ravuthy, director of the referral hospital.

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