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‘Herbicides and pesticides’ found in canals after 17 dead

‘Herbicides and pesticides’ found in canals after 17 dead

Water samples from Kratie province’s Kantuot commune, Chet Borei district, tested by the National Health Laboratory and the Institute of Technology laboratory after 17 people died have been found to contain herbicides and pesticides, the Ministry of Health announced.

Hundreds of other people have also suffered serious health effects over the past two weeks from the contaminated water.

The report from the ministry, obtained by The Post on Wednesday, showed samples from Prek Te canals were “toxic due to herbicides and pesticides that flowed into the [area’s] canals”.

The report, however, did not specify the type of chemicals found.

But a Monday statement from the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts on the results of tests on samples from the affected area showed water in the Prek Te canals contained “chromium and nitric acid, which can cause severe side effects to health”.

The director of the Kantuot Health Care Center, Sar Mala, told The Post that from April 26 until Wednesday, the death toll from the contamination had risen to 17, while 249 patients were sent to hospital in Kratie and to Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital.

But over the past few days, 137 of those hospitalised had been sent home, Mala said.

On April 26, Kantuot commune authorities reported people in Sre Norn and Aloch villages suffering from weakness, fatigue, vomiting, dizziness and other disorders, with some complaining of feeling suffocated and others even found unconscious.

The affected were sent to Kantuot Health Care Centre and the Kratie hospital. From May 3-6 the number of villagers with similar symptoms doubled.

Chet Borei district authorities yesterday appealed to villagers to immediately stop using water from the Prek Te canal system so that toxic chemicals could be removed.

Chromium and nitric acid can have serious health effects, such as rashes, itchiness, gastric ulcers and respiratory problems, and can weaken the immune system leading to kidney and liver damage, the Industry Ministry statement said.

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