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Contaminated food at funeral kills at least 10 in Peru

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LIMA (Reuters) – At least ten people have died and dozens fell ill after eating contaminated food at a funeral in the Peruvian Andes, authorities said on Tuesday.

The food appears to have contained organophosphates, a family of chemicals used in pesticides, Health Minister Silvia Pessah said on local broadcaster RPP.

Out of the 50 people sickened at the funeral in the village of San Jose de Ushua on Monday, 10 have died and eight remained in critical condition, Peru’s civil defence agency Indeci said on Twitter.

Authorities were evacuating patients from a rural hospital in Ayacucho, a southern Andean region home to indigenous Quechua-speaking farmers.

Autopsies will confirm the cause of the deaths, the head of Peru’s civil defence agency, Jorge Chavez said on RPP.

Pessah said there have been two incidents of organophosphate poisoning in the same region in recent months.

In 2013, 23 Indian schoolchildren died after eating food contaminated with the pesticide monocrotophos, a substance that belongs to the organophosphate family.

Abel Salinas, a former health minister, said on RPP that the tragedy was a reminder that pesticide containers should never be reused in food preparation.

(Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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