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More than 50 Indonesians dead after drinking homemade booze

13 April 2018

In June 2009, 25 people including a British man died after possibly drinking homemade liquor laced with methanol on the Indonesian resort islands of Bali and Lombok.

Deaths have occurred in several areas of the populous country, where people have consumed dodgy home brew or fake professionally labelled bottles purporting to be whiskey or wine.

Deputy Chief of National Police Muhammad Syafruddin said in a Jakarta press conference that 51 people have died in West Java province since Friday when those affected started being taken to hospitals.

Police displayed huge quantities of confiscated alcohol at a news conference, some of it in small clear plastic bags. 'If we let it continue, it will harm the nation.

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Police say they will crackdown on producers and distributors in a bid to put a stop to a black market in alcohol.

He said production of illegal alcohol must be eradicated completely with a "scorched earth" campaign.

The sale of alcohol in Indonesia, a country where Muslims account for 88 per cent of its 260 million residents, is regulated and subject to high taxation.

Tests on black-market alcohol showed it often contained methanol, a byproduct of bootleg distilling which can be lethal.

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Laboratory tests showed that almost pure alcohol had been mixed with herbal drinks and energy drinks with high caffeine.

Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a commonly used organic solvent that, because of its toxicity, can cause metabolic acidosis, neurologic sequelae, and even death, when ingested, according to medical website Medscape. Police had previously said at least one suspected bootlegger had added mosquito repellent to the mix.

Deaths from such consumption are reported frequently, but the latest toll is among the highest in recent years.

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More than 50 Indonesians dead after drinking homemade booze