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Page last updated at 08:15 GMT, Sunday, 20 April 2008 09:15 UK

Thai funeral dish poisons guests

More than 140 mourners at a funeral in northern Thailand are reported to have been taken ill after eating a dish that appears to have contained puffer fish.

The mourners were rushed to hospital after being served soup containing fish balls bought at a local market in Nan province, the Bangkok Post reports.

They started vomiting and complained of numb tongues and shortness of breath.

Doctors said the symptoms were consistent with puffer fish poisoning, which can be fatal even after cooking.

The fish contains a poison known as tetrodotoxin, which paralyses the diner's muscles. There is no antidote.

The fish is prized as a delicacy in Japan - known as fugu - and chefs are specially trained to prepare it safely.

Puffer fish meat is sometimes used illegally in Thailand to produce fish balls because it is cheaper than most other fish meat, the Bangkok Post reports.

Seven of those taken to hospital are reported to be in a serious condition.


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