PHNOM PENH: At least 11 Cambodian villagers have died after drinking toxic home-brewed rice wine, a health official said Wednesday, amid a government ban on alcohol sales imposed to fight coronavirus.
The victims drank the hooch at a funeral in their village on May 10, head of the health department in Kandal province told AFP.
Since then 11 people have died and another was rushed to a hospital in Phnom Penh in a critical condition on Wednesday morning, he said.
The victims were tested negative for Covid-19, but laboratory tests of the wine that the victims had been drinking found it contained high levels of methanol, said Kouy Bunthouen.
Unlike ethanol -- the usual form of alcohol found in drinks -- methanol is highly toxic, and can cause blindness even in very small doses.
Cambodia is one of Asia's poorest countries and health and safety standards are virtually non-existent outside of major cities.
Even when regular alcohol sales are permitted, homemade rice wine is popular in rural areas at wedding parties, village festivals and funerals, because it is cheap to make.