At least 34 people have died in the cities of Puebla and Morelos in Mexico, after drinking tainted alcohol on 10 May, which is Mother’s Day in Mexico.
In Chiconcuautla, a municipality of Puebla in south-eastern Mexico, the mayor’s office declared the incident a health emergency and deployed the National Guard to help assist identifying other who may be showing signs of alcohol poisoning, reports the Guardian.
Those who have died thus far in the community reportedly drank an agave distillate called ‘refino’, which is similar to mescal and costs 15 pesos (approx 50p) a litre or 5 pesos (17p) a glass. It’s suspected that the drink had been tainted with very high levels of methanol.
Methanol is typically used in solvents and antifreeze, and it can metabolise into formaldehyde and formic acts in the liver, becoming toxic within a few hours of being ingested.
Symptoms of the poisoning include dizziness, blurred vision or blindness, difficulty breathing, seizures and severe abdominal pain.
The mayor’s office appealed to the public to avoid consuming alcohol, asked those experiencing poisoning symptoms to seek immediate medical attention and announced that a full investigation would be conducted.
Elsewhere, in the municipalities of Axochiapan and Jonacatepec, Morelos, 14 people died after drinking tainted bootleg alcohol, according to Pedro Enrique Clement Gallardo of the state’s Civil Protection agency.
In Telixtac, a small, indigenous community in Axochiapan, authorities closed stores illegally selling the alcohol, despite coronavirus dry laws, and seized 86 litres of what is known locally as ‘cachorro’, ‘amargo’ or ‘damiana’ after nine people died. Five others died in Jonacatepec where the sale of alcohol was also prohibited due to the pandemic.
Civil Protection warned that the number of poisonings and dead could increase as the investigation continues.
In Jalisco at least 28 people have died since April 26 from drinking El Chorrito, cane alcohol tainted with methanol, and seven have died in Yucatán after drinking bootleg liquor.
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