At least five residents at a retirement home in southern France have died,leaving at least 12 others in a serious condition after a suspected case of mass food poisoning, officials said Monday.
Twenty-two people at the privately operated Cheneraie residence in Lherm, a town south of Toulouse, began showing symptoms including vomiting after dinner on Sunday, police said.
Four deaths were initially announced by officials, and a source close to the investigation later told AFP that a fifth person had died.
Toulouse prosecutor Dominique Alzeari said 19 of the 82 residents remained under supervision, 16 of whom were in very poor condition although their lives were not thought to be in danger.
Alzeari said investigations into apparent cases of “involuntary homicide and unintentional injury” would be lengthy, and underscored the “serious” nature of the affair.
The meals involved have been kept for analysis, the regional health agency said, and residents were being questioned about what they ate.
The management company Korian, which runs the home that opened in 2006 under licence from the French government, said in a statement that it “produces meals onsite with its own kitchen teams.”
But the son of one of the women who died told reporters he had learned from the home’s doctor that the meal concerned had been delivered from elsewhere.