MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – Eight people have now died in Latvia from drinking poisonous liquor tainted with methanol, a local doctor said Wednesday.
Eleven people were hospitalized in the central Latvian city of Jelgava after drinking spirits containing methanol – a chemical that, when consumed in large quantities, is poisonous to the central nervous system and can cause blindness, coma and death.
The victims had bought the bootleg liquor in various stores around the city, local media reported.
Five people had died by Friday, the head doctor at Jelgava’s city hospital said; by Wednesday, the number of fatalities had jumped to eight. Local media reported that a criminal case had been opened over the poisonings.
The Czech Republic was hit by a massive wave of alcohol poisoning last fall, with at least 38 people dying and scores more hospitalized between September and December from drinking methanol-tainted products. Some of the victims went blind or suffered brain damage.
The Czech government introduced a temporary ban on sales and exports of drinks containing more than 20 percent alcohol in response.
Police charged dozens of people in connection with the Czech poisonings, saying the suspects had sought to boost their profits by buying cheaper components for liquor production.