The Health Ministry yesterday said that its investigation into poisonings in Kratie province that left three people dead and 73 hospitalised revealed that villagers were poisoned by high levels of methanol in the rice wine they consumed.
The ministry said that the public should refrain from consuming uncertified alcohol sold in dubious places.
“People died and got ill because of methanol poisoning,” the ministry said.
The ministry added that a total of 73 people were hospitalised in three hospitals in Kratie province and Phnom Penh after the incidents last week, when two poisoning cases occurred within two days.
The first poisoning happened during a party in Snuol district on Thursday, which left three people dead, including 37-year-old Prech Sinath, 32-year-old Hun Sreylai and 57-year-old Hor Hun.
The second poisoning occurred during Ms Sinath’s funeral on Friday, which led to the hospitalisation of dozens of people.
Health Ministry spokesman Or Vandin said yesterday that the public should be more aware of the dangers of unregulated alcohol products.
“I call on the public to please stop consuming poisoned wines,” Ms Vandin said in a video clip posted yesterday on Facebook. “The authorities must prevent the production of methanol-laced rice wine.”
Keang Hong, the provincial referral hospital director, said that most of the victims have already left the hospital as of yesterday.
“They left this morning but I can’t exactly remember how many still remain,” Mr Hong said. “However, there are no more deaths.”
Cheak Mengheang, deputy governor of Kratie province, said yesterday that unregulated alcohol beverages are prohibited.
“We are prohibiting people from drinking wine distributed in unregulated markets,” Mr Mengheang said.
Chhneang Sovutha, the provincial health department director, could not be reached for comment yesterday.