Three Cambodian villagers had died and 44 others had been hospitalized in Kratie province after drinking locally-made rice wine, which was suspicious of containing “high levels of methanol,” police and health officials said Friday.
“Two men and a woman died on Thursday and 44 others have been subsequently admitted to the Kratie Provincial Referral Hospital after they consumed contaminated rice wine,” Bun Chhoeun, police chief of Sambou district in Kratie province, told Xinhua.
The incident took place in the district’s Damre village late Wednesday afternoon after they drank the wine following a rice harvest.
“The victims have the same symptoms: dizziness, eye irritation, nausea, and breathing difficulty,” he said.
According to Bun Chhoeun, a rice wine producer in the village was detained for questing over the tragedy, as a wine sample was collected for an examination.
Ly Sovann, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, confirmed the incident, saying that health officials had been sent to the village and victims had been rushed to hospital for medical treatment.
“Based on the symptoms, we initially conclude that they fell ill and died of having rice wine containing high-levels of methanol,” he told Xinhua. “A sample of the suspected wine had been taken for a test.”
Meanwhile, the spokesman calls on people not to drink wine that has “no clear source,” or produces without proper techniques.
Rice wine is popular in rural areas in Cambodia due to its cheap price.
Checks on food are rare in the Southeast Asian nation, where safety regulations are lax.
In May, methanol-laced rice wine and contaminated water left 13 people dead and nearly 300 others hospitalized in Kratie province.