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Five Battambang workers hospitalised after consuming herbicide

Five workers spraying a cassava field in Battambang province’s Phnom Proek district were hospitalised on Saturday after accidentally mixing concentrated herbicide with their rice wine after work, police said yesterday.

San Nget, chief of police in Phnom Prek’s Pichr Chenda commune, said that victims Sey Tork, 28; Korn Tha, 30; Som Sao, 28; Meng Heng, 38; and Suon Thu, 28, had been sent to the district health centre, where two began to recover after being given injections by health centre staff. The other three, whose conditions were worse, had to have their stomachs pumped.

“However, the medics of Phnom Proek Health Centre maintained that the above five victims have now been saved,” Nget said yesterday.

According to victim Korng Tha, the confusion arose after he bought an M-150 energy drink before work. After finishing the drink, Tha used the empty bottle to measure out concentrated pesticide to dilute with water before spraying the fields.

Because his sprayer’s capacity was 5 litres, he said, he measured out the necessary two and a half bottles of herbicide, leaving the M-150 bottle half full of the concentrate.

“In the evening, after spraying the herbicide, we bought 3 litres of rice wine and another two bottles of M-150 for mixing with the wine, but I confusedly mixed the herbicide with the wine because they were placed next to each other,” he said. “After we drank about 1 litre of the mixed wine, we started to vomit and felt hungover and couldn’t even stand up straight.”

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