Authorities have warned villagers in Ratanakkiri province’s Veun Sai district to be precautious when using water from the Sesan river after four people came down with rashes on Friday.
Two members each from separate families used the water to shower after returning home from a day of farming, according to Toeu Phouthorng, the district police chief of Veun Sai.
“They used the water for washing their face and hands, and it irritated their hands causing small red spots,” he said.
He added that the four villagers are recovering, while other locals are using the water normally even though officials from the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Industry and Handicraft inspected the water source and alerted them over the issue.
“We did not tell people to stop using the river water. We told people to be cautious, and not to drink the water. We cannot tell if [the rashes] are because of water because there are many people using this water. Now we are waiting for the results,” he said.
Meng Sineath, the provincial deputy administrative hall director, said the provincial office issued a statement to alert people living along the river to be cautious, especially coming less than a month after 13 died in Kratie province from water poisoning.
“The Health Department went down to investigate, though they haven’t sent us the report yet. They went to study upstream as well, not only in Veun Sai,” he said.
Thirteen ethnic Phnong villagers in Kratie’s Chetborey district were struck down early this month by water taken from the Prek Te river. Authorities claimed the tainted water had been used to make rice wine with high levels of methanol, which hospitalised an additional 149 people.