Jhofran Chaya, five, and his sister Amira Chaya, three, thought they were eating apples, but the red fruit was poisonous and from a tree known as ‘bola de toro’
A young brother and sister have died after eating poisonous fruit found in their grandmother’s garden.
Jhofran Chaya, five, and his sister Amira Chaya, three, thought they were eating apples and initially felt fine, but about an hour later they both began to vomit and suffer convulsions.
They had eaten red fruit from a tree known locally as ‘bola de toro’ or ‘huevo de toro’ (thevetia ahouai), which can grow up to 10ft tall, local media reported.
The tragic incident took place in the village of Montecitos, Colombia, last Sunday, leaving the youngsters fighting for their lives in hospital.
They remained there for two days until they both died, according to the local news outlet El Pilon.
The children’s devastated father said: “The boy ate six fruits and the girl four.
“We took them to the hospital so they could be treated, but as we’re from Venezuela and the insurance they had didn’t count for much.
“The girl got worse and what they did was give her serum until she was sent to the ICU, where she died.”
The children’s parents decided to seek help from the Ombudsman’s Office of Colombia so their son could be transferred to a better-equipped hospital in the city of Cucuta.
Although the transfer was authorised, the boy suffered a cardiac arrest en route and died.
The children had arrived in Colombia with their parents from Venezuela, which has been undergoing a socio-economic and political crisis since 2010.
They were staying in their grandmother’s house, which is where the tragedy took place.
Neighbour Jesus Elias Vanegas told Noticias RCN: “The children thought they were apples and ate them.
“At the time, nothing happened, but hours later they started to vomit and showed all the symptoms of poisoning.”
Following the incident, the village’s police commissioner, Jesus Emilio Sanchez, ordered everyone in the village with ‘bola de toro’ on their property to get rid of the poisonous evergreen shrubs or risk being fined.
The ornamental plant is reportedly common in the area.
The bereaved parents are said to be receiving counselling in the nearby town of Ocana, where the children were due to be buried before their parents return to their home country.