Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ten dead, nearly 100 others hospitalised after drinking contaminated water




Ten dead, nearly 100 others hospitalised after drinking contaminated water

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A villager sickened by contaminated water in Kratie province receives treatment. The water has been blamed for 10 deaths, while nearly 100 others have been hospitalised. Fresh News.

Ten dead, nearly 100 others hospitalised after drinking contaminated water

Contaminated water from a river in Kratie province has been blamed in the deaths of at least 10 ethnic Phnong people as of late Sunday, with nearly 140 others hospitalised and hundreds more families fleeing their homes for fear their ancestors are “angry” at them, officials said.

Phun Phea, police chief in Kantuot commune, said as of 4:30pm on Sunday, at least 137 people were receiving treatment in hospitals in Kratie province, while those in serious condition had been transferred to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh.

“I do not know what has caused the illness to the people,” he said. “But some people said that they had problems with water that had poisonous chemicals, and others said that [the deaths] are caused by their ancestors who are angry at them,” he said.

Following the death of the first victim in Aloch village on Thursday, Phnong ethnic villagers held a celebration on Friday, where they prayed, drank rice wine and sacrificed cows and buffaloes as offerings to their ancestors in order to ward off the “evil danger” from their villages, Phea said.

Provincial Governor Var Thorn said on Sunday that the deaths, which began on Thursday, occurred after villagers from Kantuot commune drank contaminated water from a small river, called Prek Te, which flows from Mondulkiri into the Mekong River. Prek Te’s water basin covers more than 4,000 square kilometres, according to the Water Environment Partnership in Asia.

Sick villagers are treated at the Kratie Provincial Referral Hospital after drinking suspected contaminated water from a local stream. Photo supplied
Sick villagers are treated at the Kratie Provincial Referral Hospital after drinking suspected contaminated water from a local stream. Photo supplied

Ly Sovann, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said officials had collected water and rice wine samples to be tested, with results expected soon.

“We ask [people] to stop [drinking] and [selling] wine and stop the use of suspected water from the river there,” he said in a message. “Local authorities can supply clean water to the villagers.”

The ministry has installed a mobile clinic, with an ambulance on site, for referred patients.

Sickened villagers experienced symptoms such as stomach-aches, vomiting, numbness, fatigue and dizziness, while others fell unconscious after they drank the water from the river and an attached stream, according to a statement from the provincial Health Department.

“Please, all people who live along the stream . . . stop using or drinking the water from this stream temporarily to refrain from danger,” the statement reads.

Despite distribution of clean water to several villages, a total of 248 families in Kantuot commune have left their homes and sought refuge with relatives elsewhere, or in the forest, Phea said.

Rath Roeun said his wife, Chrue Ny, and niece had drunk water while helping cut vegetables to prepare food for the funerals, and soon after began to experience symptoms of poisoning. They both were transferred to Calmette Hospital.

“I think my wife and niece’s illness is caused from drinking [contaminated] water because people use chemical pesticides and chemical grass-clearing spray to protect their rubber and cassava plantation, and the rain has brought those kinds of chemicals into the canal,” he said.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro and Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Updated: 6:55am, Monday May 7, 2018

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia