Three out of 69 people who were hospitalised on October 26 after drinking homemade rice wine in Kampong Cham province’s Stung Trang district have died, with laboratory test results confirming that the wine contained dangerous levels of methanol.
District police chief Em Vathana told The Post on November 2 that those taken to the hospital were residents of village 35 in Prek Kak commune.
“Today the condition of the patients has improved and they have mostly recovered,” he said.
Yim Navy, head of the health bureau in Stung Trang district, said many ambulances were required to transport the victims to the district hospital, and those who were in critical condition were transferred to the provincial referral hospital.
He said the victims all described experiencing tightness in the chest, difficulties breathing and headaches after drinking rice wine distilled in the commune’s Prek Kak village.
He said health officials then followed up by taking a sample of the rice wine to a lab in Phnom Penh on November 2, which revealed that it contained high levels of methanol.
“Our medical team was able to save all but three of the patients. As of today, all of the surviving patients have recovered and returned home except one who needs to receive further treatment,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Health’s Department of Drugs and Food, from 2015 through 2021, at least 119 people had died and 4,699 others fallen ill from food poisoning.
Regarding cases of poisoning by rice wine with high methanol content, eight people died and 74 injured on May 28 in four villages of Ansar Chambak commune in Pursat province’s Krakor district. Later on July 4 and 12, nine people died after drinking rice and herbal wines in Svay Tong Khang Tbong commune’s Koh Chhwang village of Kampot province’s Kampong Trach district.
Amid an upsurge of such cases, the Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CCF) under the Ministry of Commerce has reiterated its call for people to avoid drinking rice wine distilled without permits from the relevant authorities.