Two more die from two-day booze fest in southern Vietnam

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Two men have died after falling into deep comas, following a two-day drinking binge in the southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau, bringing the death toll to three.

Nguyen Van Ba, 46, died on Sunday after remaining in coma for more than one day since being admitted to Ba Ria Hospital on Saturday unconscious, together with his friend, Pham Quoc Phong, 28.

The next day Phong also succumbed after having been transferred to the Ho Chi Minh City-based Cho Ray Hospital earlier that same day.

Initial information was that Ba and Phong attended a drinking party at Ba's home with Y Cu, 49, and two others on Tuesday morning.

The party did not end until Wednesday afternoon when Cu complained of tiredness and lost consciousness. The man died soon after being hospitalized that same day.

Following Cu's death, local police started taking samples of rice wine from the shop of Bui Quang Tien, who sold the wine to the men, and found that it contained methanol a toxic solvent commonly used for making moonshine.

Speaking to Thanh Nien, Vo Van Mui, chairman of Long Son Commune People's Committee, said samples from Tien's shop were the only ones to have the toxic substance among the samples taken from 12 distilleries and 13 grocery stores across the commune so far.

When asked about the substance, Tien said he started making rice wine more than one month ago using "Hoang Son yeast," adding that all the local distillers used that type of yeast.

According to the findings of Thanh Nien reporters, the yeast was sold in sacks at local stores with labels claiming that it was produced in the northern province of Thai Binh, and the Central Highlands of Dak Lak. Each 50 kilogram sack is sold for VND17,000 (US$0.81).

The case is still under investigation.

Provincial authorities said five people died in two incidents of alcohol abuse in Ba Ria Vung Tau between 2010 and 2011.

Earlier the Health Ministry's Vietnam Food Administration reported that moonshine killed 66 out of 196 people who were 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 wine) with high methanol content and rice wine made using poisonous herbs, it said.

Last week Tuoi Tre reported that one man died from and another was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning in the southern province of Long An after a drinking competition.

It said that during the contest, each of them consumed one liter of rice wine in a single go, and before that, the men had already shared one liter with three others.

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