In the Russian region of Orenburg, dozens of people with severe poisoning symptoms have been taken to hospital in recent days. More than 30 people have since died from the poisoning. They had all drunk spirits containing methanol. The government wants to reach potential consumers of the toxic alcohol with an exchange campaign.
After dozens of deaths from the consumption of Methanol-blended beverages, the central Russian region of Orenburg has begun a “alcohol for food”-exchange campaign. Buyers of “dubious quality alcoholic drinks” could exchange these in supermarkets for foodstuffs worth multiples of the purchase price of the alcohol, Tass news agency reported on Sunday.
In recent days, 67 people have become seriously ill after consuming ‘the cut drink’, some of whom ended up on heart-lung machines after using them, authorities said. 34 of them died. According to Tass, research showed that these people had drunk liquor to which the highly toxic methanol had been added. In some cases, victims had three to five times the lethal dose of methanol in their blood.
More than 1200 bottles seized
Nine people have been arrested so far, according to the regional government. They are charged with illegal production and trafficking of illegal alcohol. Governor Denis Pasler had announced large-scale inspections of outlets in the area in an effort to remove the adulterated alcohol from circulation. “Until results are in, alcohol use can be life-threatening,” he warned. More than 1,200 glass and plastic bottles have already been seized. The Central Commission of Inquiry in Moscow said on Saturday that 11 large barrels had also been seized. Hundreds of gallons of the liquid have now been found, according to the report.
The alleged perpetrators are said to have sold the drinks mainly in the large city of Orsk in the Orenburg region, but also in other places. Because it is unclear how many bottles with potentially lethal contents are in circulation, the regional government has set up the exchange program.
Vodka and other alcohol may be sold in Russia only with official identification numbers. Violations are punished with heavy fines. Nevertheless, serious alcohol poisoning is a frequent occurrence, especially in the provinces, where drinks are sometimes made from cheap but life-threatening industrial alcohol.
In the Orenburg region, 17 people died after consuming surrogate alcohol. Another 16 people are in the hospital with poisoning.
Investigators today detained three suspects who were selling uncertified goods. The number of criminal cases, meanwhile, has increased to five pic.twitter.com/3LNe54ZISs
— Oleg But (@olegbut52) October 8, 2021