731 Turkish soldiers suffer food poisoning, 21 detained
MANİSAA total of 731 soldiers were hospitalized late on June 17 after being affected by food poisoning at a military barracks in the western province of Manisa, officials said June 18.
None of the soldiers are displaying life-threatening conditions, Manisa Chief Prosecutor Akif Celahattain Şimşek said in a written statement.
Police have detained 21 employees of a catering company, including executives of the firm, which provides food to the Manisa First Infantry Training Brigade Command where the incident occurred.
On June 17, doctors confirmed that food poisoning was to blame for the 731 soldiers’ complaints about nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
This is the second such incident after more than 1,000 soldiers were affected by a similar infection at the same military barracks on May 23, resulting in the death of one soldier.
“Upon the repeat incident, our chief prosecutor’s office has launched a second investigation. Blood and urine sample from the suffering soldiers as well as samples from the chicken and food items, water and all other ingredients served at the dinner have been taken and sent for an expert examination,” Şimşek said.
“A special office has been set up at the Manisa Police Station as part of the ongoing investigation. The analyses have been continuing in a meticulous way. In the first instance, 19 suspects, who were identified as being responsible for the supervision, monitoring and control of the catering firm, have been detained, but this number has now reached 21,” he said.
Following the incident, the Turkish Land Forces Cmdr. Gen. Salih Zeki Çolak and Defense Minister Fikri Işık visited the soldiers.
Speaking in parliament later in the day, Işık said cooking activities at the brigade commandship were halted as of June 18 as a precaution, and convenience food was being provided to the soldiers.
He also added that no soldiers would be recruited to the commandship for at least five weeks.
Administrative and legal proceedings have been launched into the incident and the tender with the catering firm will be terminated, Işık added.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Manisa deputy Tur Yıldız Biçer also shared information regarding the incident on her Twitter account, claiming that the number of affected soldiers had reached 3,000 and that they had eaten chicken meat at dinner in the barracks.
“Here is one of the largest units with 6,000 soldiers. I can say that 3,000 were affected and tents on the premises of the barracks were set up. There are some in critical condition,” she said on a live stream video on her social account.
Meanwhile, another 35 soldiers at the 28th Mechanized Infantry Division in Turkish Cyprus were hospitalized with similar symptoms of “influenza, weakness, headache, vomiting and fever” at various hospitals in Nicosia on June 17. One soldier, O.E., was reported to be in a critical condition.
The soldiers were diagnosed with “contagious infection.”
The hospitalized soldiers claimed that the infection at the military division started with the arrival of some soldiers who were dispatched to the 28th Mechanized Infantry Division from Manisa after completing their training.
“Our commanders said there is a contagious infection, they warned us to be careful,” one soldier was quoted as saying. An investigation has been launched into the incident after the incidents in Manisa and TRNC military units were reported to be similar.