Drinking game leaves 1 dead, 1 hospitalized in southern Vietnam

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One man died and another man was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after a "drinking battle" in the Mekong Delta province of Long An, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper has reported.

Phan Van Rip, 47, died "losing the battle" he initiated on Tuesday to Phan Van Thang, 58, the newspaper said.

Thang was rushed to the Ben Luc District General Hospital after falling unconscious. However, he is recovering and is set to be discharged in two days, doctors at the hospital were quoted as saying.

Speaking to Tuoi Tre, the man said earlier that day Rip had invited him and three others to a drinking party at his friend's house in Nhut Chanh Commune, Ben Luc District.

However, just five of them drank, sharing one liter of rice wine provided by Rip.

About three hours later, four others left, while Rip challenged Thang to a drinking contest, Thang said, adding that at first he refused because he had just recovered from a sickness, but later agreed after being provoked by Rip's words.

After that Rip bought another two liters of rice wine split it into two jugs, he said.

As soon as he had put down the jug after finishing his share, Thang said, he "no longer remembered anything."

Meanwhile, local people said they found Thang unconscious on a bench, while Rip passed out on Thang's right leg. They also said that Rip was known for his habit of drinking excessively and challenging others to defeat him in drinking contests.

According to Ben Luc's police, Rip died from alcohol poisoning but more details about his death were not available because they did not conduct an autopsy on him, saying that it was "unnecessary."

In an interview with Tuoi Tre, Tran Dang, former chief of the Health Ministry's Vietnam Food Administration, said Rip could have suffered acute alcohol intoxication which happens when the amount of alcohol taken in at once is too much for the liver to process.

Moreover, substances used to make rice wine like methanol when absorbed in excess could have sent his brain into a coma, making him die quickly, Dang added.

A recent report from the Food Administration showed that moonshine killed 66 out of 196 people hospitalized for alcohol poisoning between 2007 and August this year.

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Most of the deaths were caused by ruou de (glutinous and non-glutinous rice wines) which has a high methanol content and rice wine made using poisonous herbs, the report said.

The Health Ministry's policymaking institute is currently drafting a national policy of decreasing harm caused by alcohol abuse, while the draft law on preventing alcohol abuse is set to be presented to the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, for discussion in 2015, according to Tuoi Tre.

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