Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Eleven Cambodian villagers died after drinking rice wine suspected to be toxic during a funeral, a police officer said Sunday, adding to the kingdom’s growing recent death toll from unsafe homemade alcohol.
More than 30 individuals have died in three distinct events across Cambodia in the last two months as a result of home-brewed rice wine containing methanol, a very toxic chemical that may induce blindness if consumed.
Since Friday, 11 people have died and ten others have been hospitalized after drinking homemade wine at a funeral in coastal Kampot province, roughly 155 kilometers from the capital Phnom Penh.
“After drinking the liquor, the victims were dizzy,” a police official told AFP, adding that samples were taken for testing.
Homemade rice wine is a popular alternative to professionally produced drinks at weddings, village festivals, and funerals in rural Cambodia.
However, the informal brewers face little supervision, and reports of mass deaths from a single celebration or community event are common.
At least 15 rice winemakers and sellers were arrested last month, and the health ministry has reiterated its warnings against drinking contaminated beverages.