Girl suffocates as 3 brothers rescued from Busia house

Police and residents gather at a house in Sofia ‘B’ Village, Busia Municipality, Busia District, where a girl suffocated on January 16, 2024. PHOTO/DAVID AWORI

What you need to know:

  • The three survivors, aged three, five and seven years, responded to treatment and were discharged after a few hours.

A nine-year-old girl has suffocated after smoke from a burning charcoal stove engulfed their home in Sofia ‘B’ Village, Busia Municipality, Busia District, on Tuesday night.

The deceased has been identified as Patra Alinda, a Primary Three pupil of Greens Primary School, and daughter to Ms Josephine Muzaaki and George Mukhwana, both residents of the same Village.

Mr Frank Ojambo, the Sofia Village Vice Chairman, said: “The children had been preparing rice in their room; unfortunately, they locked the door and slept off and that was the cause of the suffocation.”

Mr Ojambo said incidences of children suffocating to death were becoming common and attributed them to several residents resorting to construction of houses without ventilation.

“When you look at this room, it has no windows and ventilators, meaning access to fresh air is a challenge,” Mr Ojambo further explained.

Ms Angela Mutesi, a neighbour, said the quartet had been left alone in the house when the incident occurred.

“Their mother was admitted to Soroti Hospital where she was to undergo an operation, while the father had gone to buy food at a nearby market,” she said of the 9pm incident.

She added: “The children were alone in the room when we heard a distress call; we rushed and broke the door and all the four children were rushed to Busia Health Centre IV in critical condition, but unfortunately the elder child passed on.”

The three survivors, aged three, five and seven years, responded to treatment and were discharged after a few hours.

The officer in-charge of nearby Sofia Police Station, Mr David Walekera, said: “Four children were in a room where a charcoal stove had been left burning, causing them to suffocate; unfortunately, one child has died, while three others survived after receiving treatment.”

Mr Hillary Bwire, a teacher of science, theorises that the carbon monoxide, which was produced by the burning charcoal stove, compromised the oxygen levels in the small and poorly ventilated room, leading to suffocation.

He added that Alinda may have died because she was sleeping on the upper decker, where the concentration of carbon was high compared to the brothers who were on the lower decker.

But one of the survivors said his sister died because “she slept close to the burning charcoal stove”. “She was the one cooking the rice and when it started raining, she pulled the charcoal stove from the verandah into our room, closed the door, and we all slept off.”

Mr Hassan Abasi, a teacher at Greens Primary School, described the deceased as “a very hardworking, intelligent and disciplined pupil”.

He added: “It is very unfortunate that she has passed on, but she will be missed by the teachers and pupils.”

By press time, Police were preparing to take her body for an autopsy.