More than 240 people were brought to hospitals in the Philippine capital Wednesday with suspected food poisoning in an event celebrating the 90th birthday of former first lady Imelda Marcos, authorities said.
Bryant Wong, a disaster-response officer, said dozens of ambulances transported at least 244 people who either vomited or grew dizzy hours after eating a breakfast of chicken stew with egg and rice and drinking water in a sports centre in suburban Pasig city, Manila.
They were among some 2 500 guests who gathered at a sports complex in Pasig to celebrate Marcos a day after her 90th birthday, which was on Tuesday.
Marcos, the widow of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was seen shaking hands with some of the guests at the party before the people became sick.
The former first lady is notorious for her extravagant lifestyle – which included owning 3 000 pairs of shoes – during her late husband’s 20-year rule.
Former senator Ferdinand Marcos Junior, the son of Imelda, issued a public apology.
“Organizers are determining the cause of the food poisoning and are prepared to cooperate with the authorities,” he said in a statement. “I apologize and seek understanding for the incident … We will help everyone until they are completely well.”
Ferdinand Marcos was ousted in a people power revolt in 1986, forcing the family to flee in self-imposed exile to the United States, where he died in 1989. His family returned to the Philippines in 1991.
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