WARSAW, Poland—A second child of an Afghan family evacuated from Kabul to Poland died Friday after eating soup containing death cap mushrooms, which the family had unknowingly gathered in a Polish forest outside their quarantine center.
The 6-year-old boy had received an emergency liver transplant but doctors were unable to save him. His 5-year-old brother was pronounced dead on Thursday at Poland’s main children’s hospital, where both were treated.
The boys’ 17-year-old sister was treated at the hospital and released, in good condition. Doctors said the dose of toxins was less damaging to an adult with larger body mass than to children.
Authorities are investigating whether negligence could have been a factor in the poisoning last week.
The family of two adults and four children allegedly cooked soup with the highly poisonous mushrooms they found in the forest around a center where they were undergoing a mandatory quarantine. They entered the center in Podkowa Lesna, a small town near Warsaw, on Aug. 23.
Prosecutors are questioning the center’s staff about the events last week as part of an investigation that could lead to possible criminal charges for negligence and unintentional exposing people to a serious threat of loss of health or life, Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, a spokesperson for the prosecutors’ office in Warsaw, said. The offense carries a maximum prison term of three years, she said.
Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said this week that the poisonings were a “tragedy, but did not result from any negligence at the center.”
Authorities have rejected media speculation that food rations at the center may have been insufficient.
Poland evacuated the family last month at Britain’s request after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The father had worked for the British military.
In a separate incident at a different center near Warsaw, four Afghan men were hospitalized after eating poisonous mushrooms, according to the state Office for Foreigners.
There are about 1,300 kinds of mushrooms in Poland, some 200 of which are poisonous. They are a popular food, but very good knowledge of them is required to distinguish poisonous from edible ones.
In 2019, 27 people got mushroom poisoning in Poland, and 25 of them had to be hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
Death cap mushrooms, among the most poisonous in the world, closely resemble Poland’s edible parasol mushrooms.
Mushrooms in Europe are often different from those in the home countries of newcomers, and there have been other such cases of mushroom poisoning in past years in Germany and elsewhere.
In Denmark in 2017, two children from a Congolese refugee family died and another nine family members were hospitalized after eating toxic mushrooms.
By Monika Scislowska