A senior Cambodian health official says 14 villagers whose sudden deaths were thought to have been caused by polluted water actually died from drinking rice wine containing methanol.
Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann also said Monday that 214 people had fallen ill from drinking water that was contaminated with human or animal waste or insecticide.
Reports of the deaths and sicknesses, which began last Thursday, came from two villages in Kratie province in the northeast, and were originally assumed by officials to be a single incident.
Rice wine is typically home-brewed and is popular at social gatherings. Added alcohol that is not distilled properly contains methanol, which can kill even in small amounts. At least 100 people died last month in Indonesia from drinking tainted bootleg alcohol.