Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cyanide ‘not a factor in poisoning deaths’

Cyanide ‘not a factor in poisoning deaths’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Sick villagers are treated for water poisoning at Kratie Provincial Hospital earlier this month. Photo supplied

Cyanide ‘not a factor in poisoning deaths’

Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem on Monday refuted claims that deaths in the Kratie province contaminated water case earlier this month involved cyanide.

The claim was made three days after Cham Prasidh, the minister of industry and handicrafts, declared the discovery of cyanide in water samples collected from area.

Sem said the Ministry of Environment sent blood from some of the victims to be tested in Singapore and no cyanide was found, but other poisonous substances were, which the Ministry of Health has said were nitric acid and chromium.

A Chinese gold mine near the area has been checked for the use of cyanide.

At least 14 people have died and around 300 hospitalised after the poisonings in Chet Borey district’s Kantuot commune in Kratie province.

Sem said: “For the poisonings in Kratie province, the Ministry of Environment took blood and tested it in Singapore and there is no cyanide in the blood. But it did contain other poisonous substances, which the Ministry of Health said came from herbicides and insecticides.

“A [Ministry of Mines] team took photos of hundreds of herbicide and insecticide cans next to the streams and that [likely] contributed to some extent.”

Sem did not name the forensic department in Singapore where the Ministry of Environment sent the samples for testing.

Sao Sopheap, spokesman for the Environment Ministry, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Um Sotha, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry, told The Post on Tuesday that water samples the ministry brought from the Prek Te and Korki streams for testing contained “cyanide”, but conceded that his ministry had not taken blood for testing.

Kratie provincial authorities and Chet Borey district authorities have said bottled water and food have been taken to the affected villages.

In early May, around 300 people in Sre Norn and Alorch villages in Kantuot commune complained of stomachaches, headaches, neck pain, exhaustion, dizziness and suffocation, and were taken to Kratie Provincial Hospital and Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished