At least 11 tribals died of food poisoning and about a dozen were battling for life in a hospital in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region after they reportedly ate half-cooked ox meat at a village feast, officials said on Tuesday.
The victims belonged to the forested Bandapal and Khurpai villages, over 300 km south of Raipur, located in the border area of Narayanpur and Kanker districts.
"Teams of doctors have been rushed to the two affected villages late Monday when the report about the food poisoning deaths broke out," Manoj Kumar Pingua, commissioner of Bastar division that includes the two affected districts, told IANS.
Health officials say a tribal family had hosted a feast on October 3 after one their relatives died. Around 100 tribal villagers were served half-cooked ox meat at the feast.
A majority of the tribals who consumed the meat developed severe stomach pain and began vomiting after returning to their houses in areas that lack health facilities.
"Five tribals died Sunday night and six the next day. Since the villages are largely cut off from roads, we were informed about the incident late Monday and immediately rushed doctors and brought about two dozen ill tribals to a government hospital at Narayanpur (district headquarters) for urgent treatment," a health official posted at the hospital said.
He said the death toll could go up as 10 people were in a serious condition. The official added that many more victims of food poisoning might be still in their villages awaiting medical help.