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2 die in Dawei after eating puffer fish

Puffer fish

A Dawei man and his daughter died after eating puffer fish on Tuesday.

Than Naing, a resident of Thinbawseik village in Launglon Township, and his daughter Aye Aye Aung died from severe food poisoning after eating the puffer fish that his son had caught earlier in the day. Three other family members and a child from a neighbouring house were also hospitalised.

A local resident in Thinbawseik said Than Naing began throwing up about an hour after he ate the fish and was rushed to hospital where he died from poisoning. Following a suggestion from doctors, the villagers also took the rest of the family who ate the meal – his four children and a neighbour’s child — to the hospital for tests. One of his children, Aye Aye Aung, apparently began coughing blood shortly after arriving at the hospital and later died.

Another local, Darli Myo, told DVB that puffer fish is a delicacy in the Tenasserim region, but that it must be prepared carefully before consuming.

Situated close to the Andaman Sea just five kilometres south of Dawei town, many Launglon residents made their livings through fishing, and fish is the mainstay of the local diet.

Puffer fish (Tetraodontidae) are also known as blowfish, both names a description of how they fill their elastic stomachs with huge amounts of water and air to ward off predators. Most puffer fish contain a toxic substance, and it is often said that there is enough poison in one puffer fish to kill 30 adult humans. There is no known antidote.

In Japan, puffer fish are called fugu and are a very expensive treat. They can only be prepared by licensed fugu chefs, who train for years to ensure they are skilled at extracting every droplet of toxin from the fish before cooking and serving.