GUA MUSANG: Water samples taken from the manganese mine and water catchment areas close to the Kuala Koh Orang Asli settlement are free of contaminants, reveals a study by the Environment Department.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said test results released on June 12 found that the water samples complied with the national drinking water standards for raw water.
"Test results revealed that the samples had no traces of contaminants from the mine situated about 3km from the settlement nor were there pesticides or herbicides in the water runoff from the oil palm plantations," she said.
Dr Wan Azizah said the Health Ministry was working to determine the cause of the mysterious illness that has killed 14 Bateq people in the village since May.
"This is a new phenomenon to inflict the Orang Asli. They may have had chronic problems in the past but now we need to find that tipping point which led to the deaths," she said during a press conference here Friday (June 14).
She said test samples have been taken from the sick as well as from remains of the deceased.
"Retrieving samples can be quite complex as some of them were given customary funeral rites," she said, adding that the test results will be released soon.
She said a former National Service camp here has been converted into a temporary shelter for the Bateq Orang Asli who have recovered from the disease after seeking treatment at hospitals.
"Although they have been discharged, their movements will need to be controlled until we know the disease we are dealing with," she said.
She said the those affected will also be given counselling to relieve any pressure or stress they may be facing.
Dr Wan Azizah, who visited the operations centre near the entrance of the Kuala Koh settlement on Friday (June 14), also brought along aid contributions from the Social Welfare Department, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and Food Aid Foundation to be distributed to the Bateq.
Entrance to the village remains closed to the public today as search and recovery teams continue to trace for four more Bateq graves.
Eight out of the 12 graves have so far been found since the search started on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, state police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Hasanuddin Hassan said police are working to bring out the remains of Puja Joh, who died on June 6 and given customary last rites.
Her remains will be sent for a second post-mortem after the first revealed that she had died of pneumonia.