Dr. Branka Polić speaks to reporters about the condition of the children (Photo: HRT) Dr. Branka Polić speaks to reporters about the condition of the children (Photo: HRT)

Police confirmed that they received a call from the captain of the boat just after 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning informing them that the boat was headed for Hvar harbor after one of the men on board had been found dead. Police spokesperson Antonela Lolić said state attorneys had been notified and would be taking a look at the boat along with police investigators.

Two of three children transported to the hospital are in life-threatening condition, confirmed Dr. Branka Polić, the head of the pediatric intensive care unit at Clinical Hospital Center Split.

“The children are in very serious, life-threatening condition, on respirators. Both have multi-organ failure. We are undertaking all emergency medical care measures and supplemental therapies to improve their condition. This started with neurological symptoms and has now developed into multi-organ failure," Dr. Polić told reporters.

She added that it is still unclear what caused their illness.

“We’ll know more about what happened after more detailed testing,” she said, adding that this was one of the most serious cases she’s seen in her career and that her unit has called additional doctors and nurses to return to work from holiday to assist with the cases. She also confirmed that the patients are Italian nationals and that the boy and girl are 5 and 14 years old, respectively.

Dr. Dragan Ledina, from the infectious diseases wing of the hospital, confirmed that the adults who were admitted were a 64-year-old man, and two women, ages 44 and 56.

“Two of the patients show milder clinical symptoms and will be treated as outpatients, while one of the women is has mid-range symptoms and will be admitted. Right now, I cannot say what is the cause of their illness, but we can confirm it is a case of intoxication, that is, the intake of toxins into the body,” Dr. Ledina said.

Doctors are not sure whether the toxins were ingested or absorbed through the lungs. They are looking into two possibilities. One is to rule out a virus or bacteria. The other path doctors are taking is to analyze the victims’ blood samples.