Four people die after eating puffer fish

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Four people have died and 17 people were taken to hospital after eating pufferfish in the Philippines this week.

In one incident in the island town of Jomlig, Quezon, two young children died and nine men were hospitalised after eating puffer fish cooked in coconut milk for lunch on Wednesday.

The children were two-year-old Noriel Rolden and sibling Julie Anne Roldan, who was three. They were rushed to the local hospital, but died while undergoing treatment.

In the other incident in Sagay City, two fishermen died after eating pufferfish they had caught on Tuesday. Francisco Mapalo (42) died on arrival at hospital and Romulo Celeste (58) died while undergoing treatment. They had also given some of the fish to neighbours, leading to eight people being taken to hospital for treatment after they began to feel dizzy and started to vomit.

Despite it being highly toxic due to the tetrodotoxin poison it contains, puffer fish – properly prepared – is a popular dish among coastal villagers. But incidents such as these indicate a continuing lack of awareness about the dangers of eating the fish, locally known as "butete."

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