13 Cambodians die, 75 hospitalised after drinking tainted rice wine

Phnom Penh, Dec 9 (IANS) Thirteen villagers have died and 75 others hospitalised in northern Cambodia after they drank homemade rice wine, which was suspicious of containing “high levels of methanol”, a local police officer said on Thursday.

“According to the latest figures, 10 men and three women had subsequently died since last week after they drank tainted rice wine, which was sold in their villages,” Liv Bunsong, deputy police chief of Kampong Chhnang province’s Teuk Phos district, where the incident took place, told Xinhua.

“The victims had the same symptoms: dizziness, eye irritation, nausea, diarrhea, and breathing difficulty,” he said.

Besides the dead persons, 75 others had been admitted to hospitals by Thursday night, Bunsong said.

“Some of them are still in severe condition,” he said.

He said a rice wine producer in the district had been arrested with many containers of rice wine, as a sample of the tainted wine was sent to the provincial food safety bureau for an examination.

Checks on food are rare in the Southeast Asian nation, where safety regulations are lax.