14 Villagers Die Mysteriously After Weekend Party

Fourteen villagers from two communes in Kompong Cham province’s O’Reang-ou district have died after drinking wine suspected of containing poison over the weekend, police officials and health workers said yesterday.

District police chief Nhem Sokhum said yesterday that the 14 victims, who ranged in age between 20 and 65, died between Friday and yesterday.

“During these days, 14 villagers have died, but we are not aware of the exact reason. I cannot make an assessment on the case because we are waiting for results from the [provincial] health department,” Mr Sokhum said.

Provincial police chief Nuon Samin, however, said he suspected the deaths were linked to wine that was drunk by Ampil Tapoak and Preah Theat villagers who had gathered for a celebration.

“The…villagers died and we suspect it is because they drank wine [from bottles] which still contained pesticide that villagers used to protect their crops,” he said, adding that he believed only ten villagers had died.

Kim Sourphirum, director of the provincial health department, said yesterday that 29 people may have been affected after drinking the wine. He added that six people went to the provincial health department for treatment yesterday, but all had shown signs they would recover fully.

“We heard informal information that villagers celebrated at a party and drank wine containing a poisonous substance,” he said, adding that the department was investigating the deaths.

Chim Prohos, deputy director of the district referral hospital, said yesterday that many villagers had visited the clinic after seeing other people die or fall ill. “Some of them died at their homes and at another medical clinic. We cannot say exactly what has happened,” he said.


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