Ratanakkiri River Itching Probe Draws a Blank

Source: Khmer Times

Health officials in Ratanakkiri province have moved to quash reports of ill-effects from Sesan river water.

Officials said some local media had reported that villagers in Veun Sai district complained of unusual itching of their hands.

However, health department officials who went to the place where the itching was reported found no such cases.

They said there was no evidence of any itching last week caused by using water from the river.

Health centres were visited in Veun Sai, Kachon, and Vireak Chey communes located along the river in Veun Sai district.

Provincial health department chief Ong Ratana said no unusual itching cases had been found either in private clinics or pharmacies.

On Thursday of last week, Veun Sai district authorities reported that villagers Si Chanang, 68, Kham Pen, 57, Phon Lai, 30, and Mon Loy, 20, who live in Veun Sai district’s Veun Sai commune, had itchy hands after they bathed in water from the river.

Veun Sai district governor Heng Saver said the victims’ symptoms had gone away. He said the initial conclusion of health experts was that the itching had not been caused by the river.

“Anyway, the local authority has told villagers to report any itching cases so that experts can examine them,” he said.

Last week, Industry Minister Cham Prasidh said villagers in Kratie province’s Chetr Borei district were poisoned after consuming water tainted with cyanide which was used in mining operations in Mondulkiri and Kratie provinces.

He contradicted earlier statements made by the Health Ministry which blamed herbicides for the tainted water, and claimed villagers had died from drinking methanol-laced rice wine.

Nearly 300 villagers fell ill during the poisoning case earlier this month, leading to the deaths of 13 people.


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