Durian has a bad reputation – and not only for it’s smell. At first we believed rumors of people dying from durian to be a myth, but sadly, yes, our beloved fruit is a bit of a murderer. While Rob and I romped around Asia sampling durian, the media reported on six individuals who met their end by durian. This is a tribute to all those people who lost their lives this year because of durian.
By the way, this places durian in the ranks of things that are more dangerous than sharks, especially since we can assume not all durian-deaths are reported. That sounds like an impressively lethal statistic, but apparently being swallowed by a shark is far less common than other, less plausible ways of dying like being crushed by a vending machine or asphyxiated by your hospital bed (true story!). Put in that perspective, dying by durian sounds almost dignified.
March 16: Bali. An elderly woman named Ni Wayan Pur, age 80, was killed when a huge durian tree fell on her house in Petak Kaja village, Bali, during a huge windstorm. This is unfortunately not all that uncommon. Although durians can grow to about 150 feet, they have remarkably shallow roots and are susceptible to high winds, not an uncommon occurrence in the typhoon plagued tropics. In September, a family of six was lucky not be at home when a durian tree destroyed their house.
See More: Durian Tree Lands on House, New Straits Times. Death and Injury Bali Windstorm. Jakarta Post.
July 13: Malaysia. In what was termed a freak accident, Lam Fook Chee, age 68, lost his balance while transporting a large basket of durian on his motorcycle near Raub. The durians fell on his head, killing him on the spot.
See More: Durian Kills Elderly Man. AsiaOne News.
August: Philippines. A middle aged man died in North Cotabato after returning home from the Kalivungan durian festival. Rob and I were in Davao City, Philippines, when our friend heard the news on the DXDM radio station. The man suffered a heart attack after consuming several durians in combination with coca-cola. Calls to the North Cotabato Provincial Hospital confirmed the report.
September 9: Malaysia. A 35-year-old Indonesian man, Stenya Priyantowas, was found having hung himself from a durian tree in Penang, an island renown for it’s high quality durians.
See More: Indonesian Found Hanged. New Straits Times
November 28: Malaysia. The saddest news I heard all year, a 1-month-old baby named Mohd Yusuf was killed when a durian fell on him while his mother was carrying him through the yard. She had stepped out of the house to collect the laundry at around 3 p.m. when the 2 kg (4lb) durian struck the baby on the head.
See More: Baby Boy Killed by Falling Durian in Jawi. The Star.
December 7: Sarawak. A 60-year-old businessman made headlines when he died after consuming too much durian. For the next week, the East Malaysian newspaper The Star ran stories warning citizens of the dangers of gluttony where durian is concerned. The man was said to suffer from diabetes and hypertension and may have died from a heart attack shortly after a large durian meal.
See More: Killer Durians. The Star.
***Opening Image borrowed from the computer game “Stranded in Singapore”