17 die in Russia after consuming spurious liquor


Moscow - Three people were detained in connection with the deaths.

Published: Fri 8 Oct 2021, 2:35 PM

Last updated: Fri 8 Oct 2021, 2:36 PM

Seventeen people in Russia have died after drinking surrogate alcohol containing highly toxic methanol, officials said Friday, with investigators launching criminal probes.

The deaths are the latest in Russia from the consumption of a cheap alcohol substitute, a persistent problem that authorities have previously said must be solved.

An additional 16 people in the region of Orenburg, around 1,500 kilometres southeast of Moscow in the southern Urals, suffered alcohol poisoning.

“As of now we know of 33 victims, 17 of whom have died,” the governor’s office said on the messaging app Telegram.

Tests showed that the victims had consumed alcohol containing methanol, which unlike ethanol is highly toxic and can cause blindness even in very small doses.

“In some cases, its concentration in the body was 3-5 times higher than the lethal dose,” the governor’s office said.

A workshop distributing the surrogate alcohol was uncovered in the city of Orsk, and more than 1,200 bottles were confiscated, officials said.

A team of narcologists and critical care physicians has been dispatched to the east of the Orenburg region where the deaths were registered.

“All resources have been mobilised, including ventilators,” the governor’s office said.

Governor Denis Pasler said that regional authorities had launched inspections of alcohol distributors.

He asked residents to refrain from drinking until the checks were completed, describing it as “life-threatening”.

The Orenburg branch of the Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes in Russia, said on Friday it had opened five probes after the deaths, including into the sale of goods not meeting safety standards.

Three people were detained in connection with the deaths. One, a 29-year-old man from Orsk, is suspected of producing surrogate alcohol, investigators said in a statement.

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