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Rice wine banned following deaths

OFFICIALS in Prey Veng province’s Sithor Kandal district said they have temporarily banned the sale, manufacture and consumption of rice wine in designated villages after seven people died and 33 were injured after drinking tainted liquor.

Meas Chea, the chief of Phnov I commune, said the seven people died after a funeral ceremony at which they drank rice wine that appeared to have been contaminated with a poisonous substance. The wine was consumed, he said, from October 24 to 28.

“Now we have told our villagers to stop drinking and producing wine temporarily,” he said. “We will confiscate it when we see people do it.”

District police chief Yun Soneth said authorities had not yet confirmed that the rice wine had caused the deaths and illnesses, but had banned the sale and consumption of rice wine as a precautionary measure

“Even though we did not get any confirmation that they died because of drinking the wine, we will not allow them to drink wine,” he said.

Earlier last month, 17 people died in Kampong Cham’s Oraing Ov district after drinking rice wine that health officials later said contained an “abnormally high” level of methanol.

Police arrested a 63-year-old wine seller thought to have sold the contaminated wine, but later released him because “he didn’t believe that his wine caused fatalities”.

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