The death toll from a batch of toxic home-made alcohol that poisoned scores of people attending a funeral in Pursat province’s Krakor district last week rose to nine over the weekend.
A total of 85 people were poisoned in Kampong Por commune’s Mat Prey village last Wednesday after drinking what is believed to have been pure methanol mixed with water at the funeral, commune chief Thy Phoeun said yesterday.
He said four of 76 patients rushed to Calmette hospital in Phnom Penh after they drank the highly toxic alcohol remained in critical condition.
“We brought them to Phnom Penh on October 6 and 7. Two people died along the way,” he said.
Mat Prey village chief Souk Houn, who is recovering from the poisoning at Calmette, said people sought medical attention after they began to get sick and lose their vision at the funeral.
“If they did not bring us to Phnom Penh, maybe we would have all died together. At the hospital in Pursat they did not have enough equipment for proper treatment,” he said.
Souk Houn said last week he believed the man whose death villagers had come to mourn last Wednesday had succumbed to the same toxic alcohol that poisoned those attending the funeral.
Chhorn Chhean, Pursat provincial director of police medical examinations, said one suspect had been arrested in connection with the poisonings . He said he had also encouraged villagers in the area to refrain from drinking rice wine.
The director of Calmette hospital’s emergency department could not be reached for comment yesterday.