Medics recount massive poisoning of 8,000 people

Around 8,000 people became suddenly ill back in March 1990 in Kosovo, with symptoms usually associated with those of poisoning.

The chemicals that were used brought severe body responses, including muscle contraction, vomiting, and fainting among the most commonly reported symptoms.

Yugoslavian authorities not only ruled out any implication but also claimed the whole ordeal was a fabrication.

School teachers and medical workers recall what happened 31 years ago.

Xhafer Murtezaj was a gym teacher at a high school in Skenderaj
Xhafer Murtezaj was a gym teacher at a high school in Skenderaj

Xhafer Murtezaj was a gym teacher at a high school in Skenderaj. He vividly remembers students screaming out of pain in every classroom.

“As soon as you’d hear a scream in one of the classes, you’d hear another follow in other classes too. There was a general sense of panic among students. Then it became a matter of public concern. Parents were rushing to the school, while hospitals lacked transportation means. All in all, the whole town had two or three vehicles at the time”, said Murtezaj.

Another challenge became testing the blood samples as the hospitals were controlled by Serbs, who allegedly hampered the investigation.

“I took blood samples from some patients, but I couldn’t test them at the biochemistry lab of the Institute because the director was a Serb”.

He goes on to explain that he sent the samples to a lab in Obiliq to have them tested by night.

“Lab results pointed to calcium deficiency, which was causing the muscle contractions”, added Rizvanolli.

Mazllum Belegu
Mazllum Belegu

“It was like war”, said the former chief of the blood transfusion ward, Mazllum Belegu.

“There is no greater pain than seeing those symptoms manifested in children. Seeing children shaking uncontrollably, unable to stand on their feet or even communicate”, Belegu said.

“I remember someone asking ‘is this war’, and I told him that no, this is more than war. I don’t know who could possibly do something like that”.

8,000 students and adults were poisoned in 1990, becoming a prelude to what would soon follow with massive demonstrations and all-out war for independence from Serbia.

8,000 were mysteriously poisoned in Kosovo 31 years ago by Euronews Balkans