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Poisoned rice wine leaves three dead

Poisoned rice wine is believed to have claimed the lives of three people on Saturday and left five others in a serious condition in the Pramouy commune, in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district.

Chhorn Chhean, director of medical examination for Pursat provincial police, said yesterday initial tests on the three deceased – 25-year-old Than Bundith, 51-year-old Ngoun Yuth and 30-year-old Ouch Sarim – had shown that poisoning was the cause of their deaths.

“We found out that they were poisoned by drinking rice wine, but we did not clearly identify what kind of poison was in the wine,” Chhorn Chhean said.

Eight other drinkers had been affected by the wine, he said.

Two groups of people had been drinking on Saturday before they became sleepy and dizzy. Three of the victims had died before they could reach the provincial hospital for treatment.

“We are currently monitoring five people who are in a serious condition,”  Chhorn Chean said.

One of the five, 31-year-old Mao Boeun, said that  about 8am on Saturday, he drank about half a litre of wine with his friends.

He also ate some beef for lunch, but does not believe that it was associated with his illness.

“I think I was poisoned by drinking the rice wine, because I ate the same beef one day before and it did not create any problems,” he said.

Ky Kean Hong, director of the provincial hospital, added that authorities did not know how the wine came to be contaminated.

The deaths are not the first instances of contaminated alcohol killing villagers.

In October last year, 17 people in Kampong Cham province and seven in Prey Veng province died under similar circumstances.

Health officials in Kampong Cham said the drinkers had died from the extremely high level of methanol in the wine.

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