Four men died and 12 others had symptoms of headaches, dizziness and nausea in a suspected case of alcohol poisoning, a Banteay Meanchey official said on Wednesday.
Provincial administration director Chhoeun Kraiyong told The Post that the group of construction workers from Malai, Mongkol Borei and Poipet districts brought the herbal rice wine known as Tang Kuoy to drink and it turned out to be poisonous.
“Because the poison was so strong, four men died and 12 others are being treated by doctors from the Cambodia-Japan Friendship hospital and the Poipet provincial referral hospital,” he said.
He identified the diseased as Khlaing Chetra, 28, from Monkol Borei district’s Chamnoam commune; Mai Kong, 36, from Monkol Borei district’s Banteay Neang commune; Neth Bros, 22, from Malai district’s Boeung Beng commune; and Chhorn Chhoeun, 32, from Malai district’s O’Sampoar commune.
Doctors did not confirm whether the poison was from the herbal rice wine.
Banteay Meanchey provincial Department of Health director Le Chan Sangvat said it was suspected that there was too much alcohol in the herbal rice wine, but it could not be proved.
“According to the patients, the symptoms were caused by food poisoning. However, the herbal rice wine is suspected to be the main reason. All 16 patients drank it,” he said.
The remaining wine and blood samples were sent to the Ministry of Health’s laboratory in Phnom Penh.
Meanwhile, authorities are investigating and have removed the Tang Kuoy brand from all markets in the province. They have also temporarily banned the trafficking and selling of all types of herbal rice wines to prevent spreading poison to other districts and provinces in the country, he said.
“This kind of herbal rice wine mostly sells in areas that have construction workers and garment factory workers,” he added.