May 7 (UPI) — Tainted rice wine may have killed at least 13 villagers in Cambodia and sent 200 more to the hospital, a Chinese news agency reported.
Xinhua reported Monday the villagers drank contaminated wine and water in Cambodia’s Kratie province in two locations in the village.
“Two more victims died today, bringing the number of the dead to 13,” said Chheang Sovutha, director of the Kratie Provincial Health Department.
Symptoms among the villagers began to appear on Thursday, including chest pain, dizziness, abdominal pain and inflammation of the eye, according to the report.
The victims, between the ages of 24 and 73, also experienced vomiting and fatigue.
Cambodian health officials said Sunday samples of the rice wine and tainted water showed the wine contained “high methanol levels” that caused the poisoning.
Authorities have subsequently cracked down on the sale of locally produce rice wine and are banning villagers from using contaminated water from the canal.
“I’d like to appeal to people not to drink wine that has no clear source, or produced without proper techniques, especially the wine that is blended with methanol,” said Cambodian Minister Mam Bunheng.
The production and sale of bootleg alcohol and subsequent deaths are not unique to Cambodia.
In April, bootleg alcohol led to deaths in Indonesia.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the moonshine known as “oplosan” is primarily consumed by Indonesians who cannot afford legal alcohol.
In 2018, more than 100 people have died and dozens more hospitalized because of illegal liquor, the Nikkei reports.
Taxes on imported alcohol can be as high as 150 percent in Muslim-majority Indonesia.