Two men died and three others were sent to hospital after they ingested poisonous pufferfish in Kampong Speu province on Monday evening.
The group allegedly caught the fish at O Toang Veal Lvea dam before preparing it and eventually eating it in Oral district’s Trapaing Chor commune.
Once they began to feel the ill effects of the poison, they started vomiting and one man died before an ambulance arrived. The other died on the way to the hospital.
Oral district police chief Buth Bunthoeun on Tuesday named the two victims as Yung Ngeth, 42, from Srae Ken village and Hong Sarath, 35, from Srae Tachey village, Aphivoat Commune, Teuk Phos district, Kampong Chhnang province.
Two women at the gathering, Mao Seng and Vann Srey Pich, recovered in hospital, as did a man named Vann Samphors. All three are from Srae Ken village.
Bunthoeun said seven chickens and a dog that ate the pufferfish’s entrails had also died.
“Those who ate less survived, but those who ate a lot died. They went to catch the fish at a dam called O Toang Veal Lvea. Nothing like this has ever happened here previously,” Bunthoeun said.
Provincial health department director Or Vanthen told The Post on Tuesday that the villagers had cooked the pufferfish and ate them as they drank wine.
“A short while after they ate the fish and drank wine, they started feeling the effects of the poison and vomited. One person died at the scene and another died on the way to hospital. Three others were treated in hospital and have been returned home,” he said.
Last year, the Ministry of Health warned the public to exercise extreme caution when consuming pufferfish. The ministry said from 2017 to February 2019, five people were killed from eating poisonous pufferfish, while 40 others were poisoned but recovered.
According to the ministry, there are 10 kinds of pufferfish, but only three are poisonous – the Tetraodon cochinchinensis, Monotrete leiurus and the Tetraodon fluviatilis.
The most dangerous time to eat a pufferfish is between February and March while they are laying eggs and again from July to September.
Vanthen said: “We have made announcements about pufferfish being poisonous. But maybe villagers with limited knowledge did not pay much attention to them. We have already dispatched our working team to the village where the incident occurred,” he said.