Two young siblings have died after eating poisonous fruits from their garden that they thought were apples.
The tragic incident involving a thevetia ahouai tree took place in the village of Montecitos in the municipality of Rio de Oro in the Colombian department of Cesar on October 17.
After reportedly eating the red fruit from the small tree known locally as 'bola de toro' or 'huevo de toro', the children named Jhofran Mathias Gonzalez Chaya and Amira Jhasley Chaya started to suffer convulsions, according to the local news outlet 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," their neighbour Jesus Elias Vanegas said.
The siblings, aged five and three, were taken to the Emiro Quintero Canizares Hospital, where they remained for two days, according to the local news outlet El Pilon.
Their father said his son ate six of the fruit while his daughter 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, my daughter got worse and what they did was give her serum until she was sent to the ICU, where she died."
The parents decided to seek help from the Ombudsman's Office of Colombia so their remaining child 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 accident took place.
Days later, 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 reportedly receiving counselling in the nearby town of Ocana, where the children were due to be buried before their parents return to their home country.
- Newsflash/ Australscope
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