Death crept without warning to the mud huts of Jogaeal in central India.
One by one, children began to die, often in agony and exhibiting similar symptoms: convulsions, burning pain in the extremities, nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea.
By the end of 2011, parents buried 53 of them in this forested hill country village occupied mostly by subsistence farmers and day laborers.
That scenario played out in three other villages in and around the contiguous coal-mining districts of Singrauli and Sonbhadra about 600 miles (965 kilometers) southeast of New Delhi.
At least a dozen more kids with similar symptoms succumbed, along with several adults.
Outrage at the deaths sparked an investigation by the chief medical officers of the Sonbhadra district regional government -- and the results only deepened the outrage.
Read more: Most were tied to drinking polluted water, according to reports obtained by Bloomberg News in October. They stopped short of identifying the pollutants but independent scientists who have conducted exhaustive toxicology tests in the region say they know the chief culprit: mercury.