Jhofran Chaya, five, and his sister Amira Chaya, three, thought they were eating apples and felt good at first, but about an hour later they both started to vomit and had seizures.
They had eaten red berries from a tree known locally as “bola de toro” or “huevo de toro” (thevetia ahouai), which can reach 3 meters in height, local media reported.
The tragic incident took place last Sunday in the village of Montecitos, Colombia, leaving young people to fight for their lives in hospital.
They stayed there for two days until their death, according to the local newspaper El Pilon.
The devastated father of the children said, “The boy ate six fruits and the girl four.
“We took them to the hospital for treatment, but since we are from Venezuela and the insurance they had didn’t count for much.
“The girl got worse and what they did was give her serum until she was sent to intensive care, where she died. “
The parents of the children decided to seek help from the Ombudsman’s office in Colombia so that their son could be transferred to a better equipped hospital in the city of Cucuta.
Although the transfer was cleared, the boy suffered cardiac arrest en route and died.
The children had arrived in Colombia with their parents from Venezuela, which has been going through a socio-economic and political crisis since 2010.
They were staying in their grandmother’s house, where the tragedy took place.
Neighbor Jesus Elias Vanegas told Noticias RCN: “The children thought they were apples and ate them.
“At the time, nothing happened, but hours later they started to vomit and showed all the symptoms of poisoning. “
Following the incident, the village police commissioner, Jesus Emilio Sanchez, ordered everyone in the village with a ‘bola de toro’ on their property to get rid of the poisonous evergreen shrubs or risk a fine.
The ornamental plant is said to be common in the region.
Grieving parents are reportedly receiving counseling in the nearby town of Ocana, where children were to be buried before their parents returned to their home countries.