The Chemistry Department has denied a non-governmental organisation's claim that it took samples from another river and not from Sungai Lebir, the river that the Orang Asli of the Bateq tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh used as their water source.
Department chemist Dr Mohamad Rafiq Sulaiman said the samples were taken by the Environmental Department from six locations in the settlement based on the direction of the Orang Asli Development Department.
“From the analysis, we found no heavy metal or chemical contamination. At the same time, we found E-coli bacteria in the chemical analysis," he told reporters at Felda Aring 10 in Gua Musang today.
He said the bacteria which could be found in all rivers in the country could be destroyed by boiling the water and was not the cause of the 14 deaths in the tribe recently.
On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was reported as saying that the affliction that struck members of the tribe had not been identified but was not due to manganese mining activities.
She was also quoted to have said in reference to the Chemistry Department's decision on June 12, that overall, the water quality sampling area, that is Sungai Lebir, had adhered to the National Drinking Water Quality Standard For Raw Water.
Meanwhile, National Disaster Management Agency (operation execution division) director Azizan Abu Taat expressed disappointment over attempts by certain quarters to aggravate the situation by alleging that the residents were not supplied with clean water.
After visiting the area today, he said there were three clean water sources in Kampung Kuala Koh, namely the tube well, hill water catchment and water tank provided by concessionaire Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd.
"Some said the water tank was located too far away but that's not the case,” he said.
The post mortem on two of the 14 deceased Orang Asli revealed that they had died of pneumonia.