Asia-Pacific

Hundreds hospitalised with 'food poisoning' at Philippine first lady’s 90th birthday

Health authorities said 260 fell ill after attending the 90th birthday party of Imelda R. Marcos. Source: AP

Over 200 guests fell ill with suspected food poisoning after eating at a birthday party for 90-year-old Imelda Marcos, the notorious former first lady of the Philippines.

Chaos has erupted at the 90th birthday party of former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos, after hundreds of friends and supporters fell ill with suspected food poisoning.

Ambulances rushed 261 vomiting guests from a sports stadium in Manila where thousands had gathered to celebrate with the widow of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Although Marcos was chased from power by a 1986 peaceful uprising, the family is still revered by many in the Philippines and has made a political comeback in recent years.

Filipino former First Lady Imelda Marcos with her son Bongbong at her 90th birthday celebration.
Filipino former First Lady Imelda Marcos with her son Bongbong at her 90th birthday celebration.
AAP

"Our ambulances took people to hospital after they complained of dizziness and vomiting. They apparently suffered from food poisoning," said Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon.

One party guest, a woman who only gave her first name, Leonora, said she believed it was caused by the food.

"I wasn't that hungry so I only ate the egg and a little steamed rice. I vomited and an ambulance took me to the Rizal Medical Centre where I was given an IV drip," she said.

"I blame the cook. Everyone knows Madam (Imelda) is blameless since she was not the one who cooked it."

A party guest is assisted to a waiting ambulance after falling ill with suspected food poisoning.
A party guest is assisted to a waiting ambulance after falling ill with suspected food poisoning.
AAP

The celebration featured singing and speeches, as well as water bottles adorned with Imelda's name and meals in plastic boxes.

There were no immediate reports that the guest of honour was taken ill.

The family later issued an apology while pledging to help those who were sick and cooperate with an official investigation.

"I offer my apologies ask for your understanding. Rest assured that we will continue to help until everyone is fully healed," her son Ferdinand Junior said in a statement.

Family matriarch Imelda was convicted in November in a corruption case stemming from the time of her husband's brutal dictatorship.

Although currently free on bail pending an appeal, she faces decades behind bars after being found guilty of funnelling around $200 million through Swiss foundations decades ago.

Ferdinand Marcos, who along with his cronies was accused of pilfering $10 billion from the Philippines, fled with his family to the US after his dictatorship fell in 1986.

Imelda Marcos is the widow of Ferdinand Marcos, the former Philippine strongman who died in exile.
Imelda Marcos is the widow of Ferdinand Marcos, the former Philippine strongman who died in exile in 1989.
AAP

He died in exile three years later, but his heirs later returned to Manila and the political scene.

Imelda Marcos just finished a term as a congresswoman, her son Ferdinand Junior has also served as a senator while eldest daughter Imee won a Senate seat in May's elections.

The family has a powerful ally in President Rodrigo Duterte, who ordered the late dictator's remains interred at Manila's Heroes' Cemetery despite public protests.

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