Some 50 people were poisoned in the east Siberian city of Irkutsk which the local consumer watchdog said on Monday could have been caused by "holy water" taken from wells during religious ceremonies of Epiphany.
The regional Investigation Committee, which is looking into the mass poisoning, said all the victims complained of "symptoms of acute intestinal infection" and high temperature, and 40 of them, including 22 children, have been hospitalized.
The consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said water the victims took from two wells near a church on January 19, when the Orthodox Church celebrated the baptism of Christ, or Epiphany, could be the source of infection. Water is believed to become holy and have healing properties during Epiphany.
"All the victims are known to have taken water from two wells near the Archangel Michael Church and from an ice hole made in a nearby lake," the regulator said.
No other details and comments are currently available.
Many people believe any water - even from the taps from the kitchen sink - poured or bottled by Christians on Epiphany becomes holy. The water sanctified in churches is often stored by believers for long periods.
IRKUTSK, January 25 (RIA Novosti)