The starchy roots of cassava, a major Southeast Asian crop, are rich in protein, minerals and vitamins A, B and C. However, it is poisonous without proper preparation. If eaten raw, the human digestive system converts part of it into cyanide.

The victims were taken to at least four hospitals near Mabini, about 610 kilometres southeast of Manila. Treatment was delayed because the nearest hospital was 30 kilometres away.


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