More than 260 people have been rushed to hospital with sickness and vomiting after eating food served at the 90th birthday party of Imelda Marcos, the controversial former First Lady of the Philippines.
Paramedics treated guests at the scene for suspected food poisoning and took others to local hospitals near the party venue, a sports centre in Pasig City, part of the Metro Manilla national capital region.
Mrs Marcos was the wife of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, and famous for her lavish lifestyle at a time of economic crisis and for owning 1,000 pairs of shoes.
Guests at her party were served Philippine adobo, the country’s unofficial national dish which consists of marinated meat, seafood or vegetables, along with eggs and potatoes.
Filippino Health Secretary Francisco Duque said as many as 261 people had been affected by the suspected food poisoning outbreak.
Senator Richard Gordon, the governor of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), shared pictures of paramedics treating sick patients and taking them to hospital, on Facebook and Twitter.
He posted on social media: “Number of affected individuals rose to more than 200 as of 3:00PM. PRC is still on the ground to provide assistance.”
Police confirmed the cause of the food poisoning was believed to be food served at the former first lady’s birthday party attended by up to 2,500 guests at the Ynares Sports Complex.
Patients suffering from vomiting and dizziness were taken to several local hospitals including Medical City, Pasig City General Hospital, Tricity Medical Centre, Polymedic General Hospital, and Rizal Medical Centre.
Pasig police chief Colonel Rizalito Gapaz said the food and drinks served at the party would be tested in the labs to confirm the cause of the poisoning. Cops had not yet identified the caterers.
Philippine adobo consists of meat, seafood, or vegetables marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and black peppercorns, which is browned in oil and then simmered in the marinade.
Mrs Marcos was not said to be affected. Her daughter, Senator Imee Marcos, has promised to visit all of the victims in the hospitals.
The former First Lady remains a divisive figure in the Philippines where she was convicted of corruption in November but is currently out on bail.
The Marcos couple held power for 21 years, during which time she and her husband amassed a vast fortune of allegedly ill-gotten wealth, most of which has never been recovered.
They were unseated and forced into exile following the People Power Revolution of 1986. But President Corazon Aquino allowed Mrs Marcos and her family to return in 1991 after the death of her husband.
The couple hold a Guinness World Record for the ‘greatest robbery from a government’ after they accused of embezzling the equivalent of up to 569.5 million GBP in the 1970s and 1980s.
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