EXTRA HELP. Soldiers carry one of the schoolchildren who experienced dizziness after being exposed to insecticides sprayed onto coconut trees near their school in Upi, Maguindanao del Norte, on Wednesday (May 10, 2023). At least 100 schoolchildren at the Mirab Elementary School were affected. (Photos courtesy of Datu Blah District Hospital)

COTABATO CITY – Mayor Rona Piang-Flores of Upi, Maguindanao del Norte, has ordered the indefinite suspension of classes at an elementary school where schoolchildren were downed after accidentally inhaling mists of insecticides on Wednesday.

“This is for decontamination; classes will remain suspended until further notice,” Flores said in a statement Thursday, adding that she wants to ensure the safety of learners at the Mirab Elementary School.

At least 100 schoolchildren from Grades 1 to 6 were rushed to the Datu Blah District Hospital in batches after complaining of severe stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting inside their classrooms.

“The children were exposed to vindex insecticide sprayed to coconut trees at the back of the school campus,” Flores said.

In a separate statement, the Datu Blah District Hospital (DBDH) said the causative substance was “a herbicide which contains organophosphates and aromatic hydrocarbon.”

“As of now, the patients are still under observation as directed by the PGH Poison Management and Control Center,” DBDH said.

Flores said a farmer was seen spraying chemicals onto coconut trees using a strong insecticide, adding that the air might have carried the mist
 toward the school.

Flores said a municipal executive order is being prepared to prevent the spraying of chemicals on coconuts and other crops near schools during class hours. (PNA)