Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The victims were among 800 receiving drug rehabilitation at the Phnom Bak New Life Centre in Teuk Thla commune’s Phnom Bak village in Serei Saophoan town. Photo supplied

‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

At least two youths have died and 243 others are being treated for vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, dizziness and muscle weakness after they ate cucumbers suspected to consist of pesticides.

The incident happened on Saturday, said Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Ath Khem.

He told The Post the victims were among 800 receiving drug rehabilitation at the Phnom Bak New Life Centre in Teuk Thla commune’s Phnom Bak village in Serei Saophoan town.

At least one of the victims was transferred by his family to Thailand for medical treatment, while the 242 with more severe conditions were being treated at the Banteay Meanchey Referral Hospital.

Others with less severe symptoms were being treated at the Centre itself.

“Authorities have conducted an investigation and concluded that they ate cucumbers bought from local villagers. We have saved many of them while others are still in serious condition, but doctors are monitoring their conditions,” Khem said.

Provincial Department of Health director Keo Sopheak told The Post that around 70 per cent of the 243 affected had reported feeling better, and that doctors were treating those with less severe symptoms at the centre.

“We did not suspect anything besides cucumbers because the cook bought cucumbers from villagers to make food for more than 800 of them. Some ate a lot and some ate less, so some are in more serious condition,” he said.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation’s General Department of Technical Affairs director-general and spokesman Touch Channy said: “We are saddened by the deaths of two youths.

“Some fared better but there are still three others who have not recovered yet. So they are being monitored further.”

Rights group Adhoc provincial coordinator Sam Chankea told The Post he was especially concerned about food safety made in correctional centres and prisons, prompting him to speculate that “there will be more victims”.

“Prisons or correctional centres do not care about food safety. They just think about [turning a] profit and their benefit by saving money when buying vegetables and fruits,” he claimed.

A police report of the incident, obtained by The Post on Sunday, said a cucumber vendor had given the centre four bags of the fruit for free at the time of purchase.

It added that many of the youths chose to eat the cucumbers raw with chilli and salt but most did not wash them first.

MOST VIEWED

  • Website advises travellers to stay clear of Angkor Wat

    An Australian website has advised travellers to avoid Angkor Wat during their trip to Southeast Asia because the ancient temple is showing signs of rapid erosion and faced water management issues. In a recent article entitled Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Passenger taxi boat ridership sinks despite free services

    Passenger taxi boat traffic has dropped by about five per cent compared to the same period last year, despite the government providing free service for garment workers until next year, Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said on Monday. In 2018, the Phnom

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • Shipments of mango to South Korea poised to begin this week

    Exports of Cambodian mangoes to South Korea will begin this week after Korean authorities gave the nod. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Department of Plant Protection, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Requirements director Ker Monthivuth told The Post on Sunday that after several inspections of

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that