The administration of Kampong Trach district in Kampot province has decided to temporarily ban the production, import, export and distribution of rice wine, while two cellar owners have been arrested on suspicion manufacturing and selling wine containing high levels of a toxic chemical that killed nine villagers.
Kampong Trach District Governor Aun Khon told The Post on May 25 that seven rice wineries and other herbal rice and wine stalls located in Russey Srok Kang Koeut and Kampong Trach townships Kang Koeut had been closed. Wine from other regions is also prohibited.
“To find out the cause of the deaths and illnesses of the villagers in the last three or four days, we need to ban wineries in these two communes,” he said.
According to Khon, nine people died and 37 others fell ill during a gathering to drink wine during a funeral in Thnong village in the township on May 21.
“Officials from the Kampot Provincial Health Department and Kampot Provincial Police suspected it was alcohol poisoning and arrested two cellar owners who were selling wine at the funeral home for questioning and confiscating wine for analysis, ”Khon said.
Chey Chim, 65, the father of the two men held for questioning, told The Post that there was nothing toxic in the wine his son and son-in-law had made. The wine was produced using traditional methods.
“A few days ago, the deceased’s nephew bought my son 30 liters of wine for the funeral guests, but I know my son’s wine was not toxic,” he said.
Chim called on authorities to find out the truth before deciding to charge his relatives and allow his family to open the cellar if they cleaned the wine.
Provincial health department director Nha Bunthorn told The Post that the wine confiscated at the funeral and cellar, including wine sold in the two communes, was sent to the National Health Laboratory for analysis in the morning. May 25.
“We have not determined the methanol content of the samples because the results have not yet been released,” he said.
He added that the corpses had been tested to see if they had Covid-19, but the result came back negative. Of the 37 people hospitalized, 19 recovered and returned home on May 25.
Yun Phally, Kampot provincial coordinator of the rights group Adhoc, supported the action of the district authority.
“What is important now is to ban the production, export, import and distribution of rice and herbal wine in risk areas and find the truth to avoid punishing the innocent. “
Social and political analyst Lao Mong Hay urged the Cabinet of Ministers and the National Assembly to approve the Alcohol Control Bill that the Ministry of Health drafted and submitted to the council for consideration and approval in 2015 .