250 Karen State Villagers Suffer Food Poisoning From Water Festival Donation

Villagers celebrating the New Year Water festival ended up in hospital after eating special fragrant rice.

More than 200 villagers from Paw Baw Kho village, in Myawaddy Township, Karen State were admitted to Myawaddy Hospital’s intensive care unit suffering from food poisoning.

The mass poisoning happened after villagers ate specially prepared fragrant rice (Thingyan rice) served at the Myanmar New Year festival held at Paw Baw Kho village monastery on April 19. Saw Tay Lay, a villager who helped the sick villagers suffering spoke to Karen News.

“Our villagers started vomiting and defecating in the evening soon after they had eaten the Thingyan rice.”

Saw Tay Lay told Karen News that a stuffing made by mixing yellow beans with tamarind leaves was used in the rice.

“These villagers have been in Myawaddy Hospital for two days already.”

Saw Tay Lay said “the villagers had bought the yellow beans from the market in Thin Gan Nyi Naung, but the villagers prepared the stuffing by themselves.”

The Paw Baw Kho village head medic told the Karen News that half of the poisoned villagers were children and the elderly. The village medic said villagers had symptoms that included being dizzy, high fevers, vomiting and defecation.

Saw Tay Lay told Karen News that getting the victims to hospital quickly had prevented it from being worse.

“Doctors [at the hospital] said the patients were poisoned by food. The food has been taken for investigation. There is no one from this group who is now at risk of losing their life. There were approximately 250 people from this group affected. Some of the patients condition is improving better.”

Paw Baw Kho village is a 20-minute drive from Myawaddy Town. There are over 180 houses living in Paw Baw Kho. This is the first time villagers suffered food poisoning despite being involved in the tradition at the monastery every year following Burma’s traditional Thingyan water festival.

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