WATCH ABOVE: Mourners gathered at an Edmonton mosque to say goodbye to a baby girl who was accidentally poisoned. As Shallima Maharaj reports, another sibling has passed away.
EDMONTON — A funeral will be held on Friday afternoon for two-year-old Zia Hassan, who died on Thursday at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton after being accidentally poisoned.
News that the toddler had passed away came as mourners gathered Thursday afternoon at Edmonton’s Al-Rashid mosque for the funeral of his eight-month-old sister, Zara. The Imam who spoke after the funeral confirmed the second death.
“It is tough for everybody. It is tough for the family, tough for the school community, it’s tough for the Muslim community,” said Taj Mohammed, a spokesperson for the Hassan family and principal of Fort McMurray Islamic School.
Zara died Sunday following a tragic accidental poisoning in the northern Alberta community of Fort McMurray.
Four other children were taken to hospital. A four-year-old named Zohaib and a seven-year-old named Zainub were treated at the hospital in Fort McMurray, while two-year-old Zia and his six-year-old sibling Zain were flown to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.
By Thursday, only the six-year-old remained in hospital, in critical condition.
“You never forget the loss of a family member particularly when it’s a child. You never forget that,” said Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Mike Allen.
“I have children. We all have children. No parent should have bury their child.”
There was no school this week in the Fort McMurray Public Schools district. Grief councillors will be made available when classes resume Monday, to try and help students make sense of the tragedy.
“It’s tough, it’s not easy, but we will do our very best to try to make them understand that life has to end one day,” said Taj Mohammed. “God gives life, God takes away life. We all have to go one day, so it’s a way of passing that has happened in the family. It is tough for everybody.”
The children became sick last weekend after they were inadvertently exposed to phosphine gas released from aluminum phosphide pellets.
The family brought the insecticide back from a recent trip to Pakistan, with the intention of using it to exterminate bed bugs. Aluminum phosphide is often used by grain farmers to combat pests such as rats.
READ MORE: What poisoned 5 children in Fort McMurray?
An investigator said the insecticide pellets became deadly when vacuumed. Fort McMurray Deputy fire chief Brad Grainger said the green tablets were placed around the apartment, particularly in one bedroom, to try to kill bed bugs.
When the mother vacuumed the floor, he said, some of the toxic material was disturbed, broke down and became airborne. The children then became sick.
The incident happened at Hearthstone Manor, a four-story apartment building at 81 Fraser Ave., near downtown Fort McMurray.
Building manager Sandy Mijajlovic told Global News that the mother grew concerned when her children started vomiting.
The family spokesperson said the municipality has a major bed bug problem that’s especially prevalent in the downtown.
“I think there should be something done about it,” said Mohammed. “This is not the first time I’ve heard it from people… It’s something that needs to be looked at. The municipality has to get involved.”
A trust fund has been setup for the family.
With files from Shallima Maharaj, Nicole Mortillaro, Global News, and The Canadian Press
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