Police are hunting for five men who delivered free candies to primary students and locals in Central Highlands’ Dak Lak Province and fled before those who ate the sweets started to develop sign of food poisoning.
As many as 59 people, including 49 children, had consumed the cookies and candies provided by the men, newswire VnExpress reported on Saturday.
On Friday, five men, wearing face masks, stopped by three elementary schools in Ea Uy Commune, Krong Pak District and delivered the sweets to many students.
The masked men also gave the same candies and cookies to local residents before leaving the area on some motorbikes and a car.
H’Quynh Bya, a local seventh grader and one of the poisoned victims, said the men were also wearing jackets and sunglasses on top of the masks.
“My sister and I ate a bag of candies and immediately developed stomachache and nausea,” H’Quynh was quoted by VnExpress as saying.
“We told our parents and were transported to the hospital later.”
Y Ngon Bya, a seven-year-old student of the Ly Tu Trong Elementary School, said one of the suspicious men waved at and invited her to come over when she was standing outside the school with friends.
“My friends and I received a lot of cookies and candies, so we brought back to our class and shared with the other students,” Y Ngon said.
Not long after consuming the gifted foods, all the students started to have severe stomachache, according to Y Ngon.
Ea Uy Commune chairman Ngo Giao confirmed that the men also gave the allegedly poisonous sweets to many local residences. “They acted and left the area very quickly,” he said.
“All the people who ate the candies or cookies developed the same symptoms.”
Of the 59 poisoned people, 49 are elementary students. All but one of them have been safely discharged from the hospital as of Saturday noon.
With the five suspects remaining at large, Krong Pak police have mobilized all resources to hunt for the men, while admitting that the motive of the poisoning remains unclear.
Officers have collected dozens of kilograms of candies at the three elementary schools and some local houses for further investigation.