Casualties From Contaminated Rice Wine Rise to 30 in Pursat

Police found weed killer in suspect’s house

Six people have now died and 24 have been hospitalized from drinking contaminated rice wine in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district in the past week, provincial officials said yesterday.

Provincial deputy prosecutor Yo Yeu Ny said that provincial police have arrested Mot Cham­nab, 49, on suspicion of selling the wine that poisoned the villagers. Mr Yeu Ny also said that police found a package of weed killer in the suspect’s house.

“I went and asked the main distributor of rice wine [in Veal Veng] where [the suspect] had bought his rice wine. They said that they had sold him 15 liters,” Mr Yeu Ny said. “But we know that 30 liters of wine was sold to the [poisoned] people, so at this point, it should be investigated where the other 15 liters came from.”

Mr Yeu Ny said that there was no other store in Veal Veng that sold rice wine in such large quantities.

Police sent samples of the deadly rice wine for testing at the provincial health bureau on Mon­day, but Meas Bot, deputy provincial police chief, said that no results were yet available to his investigation.

Mr Bot said that the latest casualty figures—up from 5 dead and nine hospitalized on Monday—had been confirmed with the pro­vincial hospital.

“They were not all part of the same group,” Mr Bot said. “Some people drank it on different days and have not died; they were just poisoned and are now in hospital.”

Sok Sitha, deputy police chief of Veal Veng district, said all victims had experienced the same side effects from drinking the wine—vomiting, loss of vision and severe stomach pain.

Mr Sitha also said that most of the victims were not locals, but mi­grant workers from other provinces who had come to Veal Veng to find temporary work in local industries such as farming.


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