At least seven migrant workers returning from Thailand died on November 11 after drinking a lethal batch of bootleg hooch – containing an alcohol-based sanitiser – at a quarantine centre in Banteay Meanchey province, police and other authorities confirmed.
The septet succumbed to poisoning at the centre, in Poipet town’s Nimith commune, while 18 fellow migrant workers who also consumed the toxic brew were admitted to emergency rooms in Poipet and Siem Reap referral hospitals, according to the Banteay Meanchey provincial police report.
“They [the 25 migrant workers] took some alcohol available at the centre which is used to sanitise the premises, and mixed it with Oishi brand Green Tea and a carbonated beverage, drank it and were subsequently showed signs of poisoning. [Seven] died at the scene while  others were taken to hospital.
“Our interrogations with some of them revealed that they had concocted such cocktails while in Thailand,” the report said.
Provincial Department of Health deputy director Roeun Sothy affirmed that seven of the 25 workers had died from poisoning, and said the incident happened on November 11 at 2pm.
“Following the poisoning, a working team from the provincial health department went to take samples for analysis at the national level,” he said.
Provincial Department of Information director Sok Sokhom told The Post that migrant workers have been more prone to drinking wine after work due to a notable temperature drop in Banteay Meanchey in recent days.
“But anyone who enters Cambodia has to undergo quarantine and is not allowed to bring in alcohol to the centre, as a measure to avoid problems or ruckus.
“The quarantine centre is a high-risk place for Covid-19 transmission, so drinking alcohol is not allowed, which is why they may have come up with the idea to mix soft drinks with sanitiser,” he said.