Blood test from the deceased villagers who were poisoned in Kratie province’s Chetr Borei district showed methanol in the blood, a senior Environment Ministry official said.
Tin Ponlork, general secretary of General Secretariat of Council for Sustainable Development at the Environment Ministry, told reporters that blood sample sent to be tested in Singapore showed methanol in the blood.
“We sent the sample to be tested at a laboratory in Singapore. In general, it contains methanol in the blood sample of some victims,” Mr Ponlork said.
Nearly 300 villagers fell ill during a poisoning case earlier this month, leading to the death of 13 people in Chetr Borei district where water from the Prek Ter stream was contaminated.
About 80 villagers in Mondolkiri province were also hospitalised after poisoning from stream water.
The Health Ministry initially blamed the tainted water on herbicides and also claimed villagers had died from drinking methanol-laced rice wine.
However, several villagers told the Khmer Times that they suspected they may have been poisoned by run-off from gold mines in Kratie and Mondolkiri, a theory later confirmed by Industry Minister Cham Prasidh.
On Monday evening, Mines Minister Suy Sem dismissed the claim by Mr Prasidh, who said that villagers in Kratie province were poisoned and killed by cyanide-tainted water due to run-off from gold mines and reiterated that the Health Ministry’s explanation was correct.
Mr Ponlork said that the Ministries of Environment and Mines and Energy have prepared a report with detailed test result and will send it to the government’s leaders.