As many as 28 schoolgirls have been hospitalized with anxiety attacks after allegedly playing with Ouija boards at their school in Colombia.
"There were 28 possible cases of anxiety in school students," said Hugo Torres, head of the Galeras Educational Institution in Galeras, where the incident took place, per Jam Press.
Girls Fainted, Suffered Signs of Anxiety and Other Symptoms
According to the outlet, alarm bells went off after the girls reportedly suffered signs of fainting, anxiety and other symptoms at school. They were subsequently admitted to a municipal hospital accompanied by parents and school faculty.
Info on the students' diagnoses has yet to be released, however many parents blame the in-school use of Ouija boards - a game board with letters, numbers, the words yes, no, hello and goodbye, as well as other symbols.
The boards can allegedly be used to contact the dead, whose "spirits" will move the planchette â a heart-shaped piece of wood or plastic â around the board to spell out answers to the questions players ask.
Users place their hands on the planchette and ask any present spirits to answer their questions by moving the planchette around the board to spell out their response.
School Authorities Slam Rumors, Claim They're Awaiting Medical Diagnosis
"I work here in a hospital kiosk and every day I see three or four children arrive after fainting," exclaimed one mother. "Parents, you have to move, investigate what's happening at school, because our children cannot continue in this situation."
She added, "Our children always have a good breakfast and it cannot be said that what's happening is due to lack of food."
However, Torres has since accused community members of stoking hysteria by spreading unfounded rumors. "Given the reported cases, a series of comments were unleashed on the community that, rather than helping to resolve the situation, led to confusion and an adverse environment for our work," he said.
"The school is waiting for the medical diagnoses to provide further reliable information," explained Torres, who implored the community to avoid making "early judgments and diagnoses of their own" in the interim.
Second Such Incident in Four Months
This is the second such incident that has grabbed headlines in Colombia in the last four months.In November, a group of students collapsed after using a Ouija board at another school in Colombia, with five taken to hospital, as previously reported.
The incident took place at the Agricultural Technical Institute in Hato and the students' symptoms included violent vomiting, abdominal pain and muscle spasms, which were linked to a bout of food poisioning.