Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Bootleg alcohol kills 19 drinkers

Vodka laced with poisonous methanol has killed 19 people in the Czech republic (AP)

A wave of poisoned bootleg spirits have killed 19 people and put dozens more in hospital in the Czech Republic.

The country has announced emergency measures to combat sales of vodka and rum laced with toxic methanol.

Methanol is mainly used for industrial purposes but since it is cheap and impossible to distinguish from real drinking alcohol, criminals sometimes stretch black market drinks with it to guarantee high profits.

Prime Minister Petr Necas urged all Czechs to refrain from drinking "any alcohol whose origin is uncertain" but authorities still feared the death toll will rise.

Of the people confirmed dead, eight lived in country's depressed north-east two others died in neighbouring Poland and one more in Slovakia, police said. Some of the victims have been blinded. Others have been induced into comas in the hope that doctors can save them.

Police said all the cases so far are probably connected and two suspects have been arrested, one in the eastern city of Zlin and another in the north-eastern city of Havirov.

Police have raided over 400 kiosks and markets nationwide and found that about 70 of them were selling illegal alcohol.

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