Vietnam students hospitalized after inhaling gas from Chinese toy

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Two boys at a Dak Nong Province hospital after a Chinese toy exploded and emitted a gas at their primary school, sickening nearly 40 children. Photo by Phan Ba

Authorities are looking to seize a Chinese toy from the market after one exploded at a school in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong and emitted a gas that caused 39 students to be hospitalized.

Children at Chu Van An Primary School were rushed to hospital Thursday afternoon after the toy exploded on being tossed around.

Dr Dang Van Anh, head of the emergency department at Dak Song Hospital, said the victims had difficulty breathing and developed itchy rashes all over the body.

The chemical was washed off all the children, and the worst affected ones were put on respirators and fed intravenously, he said.

Half of them had to remain in hospital until the next day.

Tran Trung Nguyen, a fifth grader, said they were playing in the schoolyard when someone tossed the toy and it exploded.

He and many others felt body pain and had difficulty breathing.

Preliminary investigations show that some students had bought the toy -- two bags containing a pink liquid and a white powder stuck behind a colorful piece of cardboard fashioned as a smiling face, fruit, and others -- from a shop near the school.


A Chinese toy that emits sickening gas when pressed hard

The shop owner, Doan Thi Loan, said she had bought around 100 of them from the neighboring Dak Lak Province several days ago and sold around 40.

Authorities have seized all the remaining items for investigation.

Market managers in Ho Chi Minh City, whose wholesale markets allegedly supplied the toy, have seized around 100 bags which are being sold at VND25,000 (US$1.20) for every 40 of them.

A vendor at a shop in the city said the toy, called "bomb toy" or "stinky bomb" gives off tiny explosions when squeezed .

But she said she had no idea about the safety of its contents and the liquid that is released when thrown into the ground to set off a big explosion like some children said they do.

Another vendor said they deliver the toy to other provinces since it is a favorite with kids.

All the vendors in that area said they were out of stock when Thanh Nien reporters asked to buy some.

They suggested looking out for street hawkers since the toy could not be found in supermarkets or bookstores.

Vietnamese authorities had earlier this month ordered the recall of two Chinese toys -- a plastic ball with dots and fruit-head dolls -- after tests found they contained excessive amounts of phthalates, a plasticizer compound that is restricted in western countries since it can cause cancer and deformities in unborn babies and infertility in men.

Earlier this year they had imposed similar bans on two other Chinese toys -- a ride-on reindeer which was banned in Singapore and a battery-operated car for containing excessive amounts of the chemical.

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