Authorities in Pailin province are investigating the cause of a mass outbreak of “poisoning” among cassava farmers and their children in Sala Krao district, suggesting yesterday that a local water source may have been tainted by pesticides.
Ry Dara, Stung Trang commune police chief, said 55 people, including seven children, had fallen ill on Monday after drinking water from a pond next to the Tomnob village cassava plantation.
“They work on the cassava fields and consumed the water from the pond and got diarrhoea, vomited and had swollen faces,” he said.
While investigations are still ongoing, Dara said that “it might be that some pesticides were sprayed at the plantation nearby the pond and flowed into the pond when it rained”.
But Tep Sorng, the director of Sala Krao district’s Phnom Spong Health Center, said others in the area had been regularly drinking the water and had not fallen ill.
Yors Sovann, deputy director of Pailin provincial heath department, said samples of the water would be examined today.
The 55 had all returned to the plantation yesterday.