Rice wine sends 22 to hospital, follows five earlier deaths

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Twenty two people were hospitalized Monday noon after drinking rice wine in the central province of Ninh Thuan, where another five had recently died of suspected alcohol poisoning, a local official said.

The victims, all belonging to the Raglai ethnic minority in Ma Trai Hamlet, said they began having respiratory difficulties, headache and diarrhea after having ruou trang, distilled liquor made from glutinous or non-glutinous rice, bought from local shops.

Le Minh Dinh, director of Ninh Thuan’s health department, said initial information showed the symptoms were caused by alcohol poisoning, but they still needed to get test results from samples taken from over 100 liters of liquor in various shops in the hamlet.

As of 8 p.m. on Monday, the patients had started recovering.

Also at Ma Trai, three people died Saturday and another was in critical condition after drinking the liquor.

Before and after the Saturday’s incident another two people were suspected of having died by alcohol poisoning, said Nguyen Nam, deputy chairman of People’s Committee in Phuoc Chien Commune, where Ma Trai Hamlet is situated.

Reported by Thien Nhan

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