Contaminated food at funeral kills at least nine in Peru

LIMA, Aug 7 (Reuters) - At least nine people have died and dozens became ill after eating contaminated food at a funeral in the Peruvian Andes, authorities said on Tuesday.

The food appeared to have contained organophosphates, a family of chemicals used in pesticides, Health Minister Silvia Pessah said on local broadcaster RPP.

Public prosecutors have taken samples of food and beverages served at the funeral for testing, the attorney general's office said in a statement.

Out of the 50 people sickened at the funeral in the village of San Jose de Ushua on Monday, nine have died and several were in critical condition, Peru's civil defense agency Indeci said on its website.

Photos from the scene:

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Earlier, Indeci tweeted that 10 had died, but the tweet appeared to have been removed.

Indeci said that patients were being evacuated from a rural hospital in Ayacucho, a southern Andean region that is home to indigenous Quechua-speaking farmers.

Pessah said there have been two incidents of organophosphate poisoning in the same region in recent months.

In 2013, 23 Indian school children died after eating food contaminated with the pesticide monocrotophos, a substance that belongs to the organophosphate family. (Reporting By Mitra Taj Editing by Alistair Bell)