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RCAF officers warned over mushrooms

RCAF officers warned over mushrooms

Deaths prompt advisory about foraging for food in the jungle.

MILITARY doctors have advised all RCAF commanders stationed at the border to issue warnings to their troops about eating wild mushrooms, following the death of three soldiers from poisoning late last month.

So Rin, 45, died at the Preah Vihear front line on July 29, while Saing Roeun, 45, and another unknown soldier died at the Military Region 4 Hospital the following day. Soldier Yoeun Be, 33, survived the poisoning.

"We ordered all military commanders during a meeting on Monday to tell their soldiers to be careful in picking mushrooms to eat," said Phoeuk Amrith, deputy chief of Military Region 4's hospital.

"They must only choose non-poisonous varieties."

He said that the soldiers who were poisoned had ingested three different species of mushroom, but that authorities were unsure which of the wild fungi was to blame.

Bo Sarath, a medic in Battalion 81, part of RCAF's Brigade 8, said that many ex-Khmer Rouge soldiers got used to foraging for food in the forest during the civil war of the 1980s and 1990s, and knew what was dangerous to eat.

"We are used to eating mushrooms, and we know which ones we can eat and which we can't eat. Sometimes they poison us, but not seriously," he said.

"These soldiers' deaths took us by surprise and taught us to be careful before taking anything to eat from the jungle."

Yim Phim, commander of Brigade 8, said that he had passed the warnings on to his troops.

"[Troops] choose to pick mushrooms to eat because they are delicious and there are plenty of them in the forest. They don't lack food, but these mushrooms are good and tasty," he said.

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