11 dead, 138 hospitalized in Cambodia after drinking tainted wine

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 PHNOM PENH, May 7, 2018 (BSS/Xinhua) – At least 11 villagers were killed and 138 others hospitalized in eastern Cambodia’s Kratie province after drinking tainted rice wine and suspected contaminated water, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Monday.

The incident occurred at Sre Non and Aloch villages in Kantuot commune of Chitborey district last week after villagers reportedly drank rice wine and water collected from a canal, the statement said, adding that the victims had the same symptoms such as stomach ache, vomit, sore throat, fatigue, dizziness, and breathing difficulty.

Currently, 134 victims have been receiving medical treatment at the Kratie Provincial Hospital and most of them have recovered, while the remaining four, who were in severe condition, had been hospitalized at the Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, it said.

All the victims aged between 24 and 73 years old.

The statement said health officials on Sunday took the samples of locally- made rice wine and suspected polluted water in the two villages for examination and found that the rice wine contained “high methanol levels” that caused poison, while the result of the diagnosis of the suspected contaminated water was not available yet.

The statement said the local authorities had closed the production and sales of rice wine in the villages, banned the villagers from using suspected contaminated water in the canal, and provided them with clean water.

“I’d like to appeal to people not to drink wine that has no clear source, or produces without proper techniques, especially the wine that is blended with methanol,” Minister of Health Mam Bunheng said in the statement.

“People should not flow, or discharge waste or chemical substances into lakes, rivers, or canals that are the sources of water for our consumption,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Kratie Provincial Police Commissariat said in a report on Monday that there was another incident of food poisoning in Proma village, Kampong Damrey commune of Chhloung district on Sunday, leaving 44 villagers hospitalized.

The report said the victims fell ill after they ate sticky rice cakes that were sold in the village. However, their condition was not serious, and they all had recovered and left the Kratie Provincial Hospital for homes.

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