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Bad coffee spoils local ceremony

Dozens of people are expected to recover after getting sick from instant coffee at a pagoda ceremony in Siem Reap’s Chi Kraeng district on Saturday.

Officials could not agree on the number of people who suffered from dizziness and vomiting at the ceremony. District police chief Touch Sakal said 25 people got sick, including 17 monks, six seniors and two children. Siem Reap Provincial Health Department director Kros Sarat, however, said 22 monks and 19 others experienced symptoms.

Ta Ong pagoda in Laveng Russey commune held a ceremony for the seventh day of Pchum Ben, serving food and drinks to monks and visitors. Two hours later, people started getting sick and were brought to the district referral hospital. Sakal blamed the Nescafe coffee, which had been expired for two months.

But Sarat said that the case likely stemmed from a lack of hygiene during the brewing process due to the use of a scarf as a filter, as well as a possible caffeine overdose. The crisis appears to be over, however.

“Now they are alright and got a little better; they went back to the pagoda and home after the treatment,” said Sarat.

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