In a tragic incident, 10 out of 11 victims, including five workers at Hang Anh Andong Meas Co Ltd, have reportedly died from alcohol poisoning in Ratanakkiri province. The victims hailed from Village 3 in Kon Mom district’s Sre Angkor commune, according to a July 3 report.

In a July 3 press release regarding the suspected case of alcohol poisoning at Hang Anh Andong Meas that occurred on June 28, the provincial Department of Labour and Vocational Training said that upon receiving the information, safety officers promptly collaborated with relevant authorities and the provincial health department to investigate the case and instructed the company to implement immediate occupational safety measures to safeguard the workers.

“Despite rescue efforts, 10 of the 11 victims had died as of July 3, including five workers,” the statement read.

It said the victims had consumed alcohol sold near the company, leading to the fatal poisoning.

On July 3, provincial governor Nhem Sam Oeun announced that after receiving lab results from the provincial branch of the Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CCF), he immediately instigated a thorough search of local liquor stores. He urged those who bought wine and had not yet consumed it to report to relevant officials for further inspection.

In an attempt to prevent further such incidents, Oeun ordered wine vendors with unclear sources to halt sales until the safety of their stock could be verified by authorities.

“We ordered locations where wine is sold to stop selling. If there is new wine, they must report to our officials to check first. If we find the wine contains toxic substances, it is absolutely not for sale,” he asserted.

As the case continues to be investigated, with victims continually being hospitalised, Oeun called an urgent meeting with the provincial administration on July 2.

He urged relevant departments to carry out lab analyses of samples in Phnom Penh to obtain precise results.

He also appealed to the public to be cautious about their alcohol consumption, especially wine with an uncertain origin and blended alcoholic fermentation, which can pose serious health risks.

Provincial health department director Ung Ratana said at a July 2 meeting that the department swiftly dispatched a team to investigate upon receiving information about the fatalities at the company. The team found that most victims were regular drinkers and had no history of physical illness, but had symptoms including abdominal pain, vomiting, fatigue and dizziness prior to their death.