At least 31 children have died in northern India in the last 10 days from a deadly brain disease believed linked to a toxic substance found in lychee fruit, health officials said yesterday. The deaths were reported from two hospitals in Bihar state’s Muzaffarpur district, famed for its lush lychee orchards, officials said. The children all showed symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), senior health official Ashok Kumar Singh told AFP, adding most had suffered a sudden loss of glucose in their blood. At least 40 other children complaining of similar symptoms were being treated at intensive care units. The outbreaks of the disease have happened annually during summer months in Muzaffarpur and neighbouring districts since 1995, typically coinciding with the litchi season.