A Spring Festival celebration turned tragic for one family in Shaanxi province on Thursday when three young sisters were poisoned to death after eating steamed buns that had accidentally been contaminated with borax.
For the first day of the lunar new year, the grandmother prepared some steamed buns for her family in the Liujiagou village of Shaanxi’s Suide county, but in her haste, ended up mistaking borax for alkali powder, Xinhua reports.
The three girls, aged six to 16, died after eating the buns despite doctors’ attempts to save them. Their father and eight-year-old brother were also poisoned from the buns. The father was discharged from the hospital and the boy is still receiving treatment, police said yesterday.
Borax is used in detergents, cosmetics and insecticides. Its white, powdery appearance might resemble alkali powder, but ingesting too much of it can cause gastrointestinal distress including nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. The substance is banned in China.