Samples of the suspected toxic meal have reportedly been sent to South Africa for testing in an attempt to establish or rule out food poisoning © Getty Images / Darrin Klimek

Thirteen people from the same household of 22 members have died in Namibia after eating suspected poisonous food, local media reported. Four others are said to be in critical condition following the incident, which occurred over a three-day period in Kayova village, located in the northeastern region of Kavango.

The health ministry, according to state broadcaster NBC, said the members of the family, most of them children, fell severely ill on Saturday after consuming porridge made with pearl millet flour, plus an additive of dried pounded fermented sediment from a homemade beverage.

Authorities have dispatched a team of professionals to provide psychological support and counseling to the grieving family, while samples of the porridge have reportedly been sent to South Africa for testing to determine if it was contaminated.

Officials from the ministry will also educate community members about food preparation, emphasizing the dangers of mixing food with potentially polluted substances.

The Namibian outlet quoted the country’s first lady, Monica Geingos, as saying on Tuesday that she was devastated by the loss, which has left her in “deep reflection on the fragility of life and the importance of community care and kindness.”

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“I speak in unison with many Namibians in expressing my heartfelt condolences to Godfried Shishugho Kangungu and the entire Kangungu family during this period of unspeakable grief,” she stated, as reported by the Namibian.

The first lady also said her office is willing to provide psycho-social support and trauma debriefs to the bereaved family, community members, and frontline responders. (RT)