Three Dead in Mondolkiri; Moonshine Blamed

Three deaths and a spate of rice wine-related illnesses in Mondolkiri province prompted local health officials to investigate if a batch of locally brewed moonshine is tainted or poisoned.

Three workers for a mine in Keo Seima district started a party with a bottle of rice wine they bought from a grocery store in the district’s Chung Phlas commune on Wednesday afternoon, said Kimsea Panha, deputy chief of Mondolkiri health department’s technical office.

Shortly after, one of the men became sick.

Struggling to breathe, his vision blurring, the man died an hour later in the commune.

His relatives gathered for a funeral, purchasing more rice wine from the same store along the way, Mr. Panha said, adding that the man’s family assumed that he’d died from his drinking habit and poor health.

However, 10 mourners at the funeral then also fell ill, Mr. Panha said.

Meanwhile, the man’s two drinking companions also died, one on Thursday and the other on Friday.

“It’s just our initial conclusion, but it might be a case of too much methanol in the rice wine,” Mr. Panha said.

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