Oct. 9 (UPI) — At least 30 people have died and dozens more were sickened by drinking tainted counterfeit alcohol in a region of southwestern Russia, local officials said Saturday.
The death toll from the mass poisoning incident in the Orenburg Oblast near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan rose to 30 as another victim succumbed 48 hours after the outbreak was first detected, regional health officials told the Russian news agency Interfax.
More than 50 people were sickened in the incident with 20 remaining hospitalized in the Eastern Orenburg region, including five with severe symptoms who were placed on ventilators, the region’s health ministry wrote in an Instagram post.
“The best resuscitators, narcologists and toxicologists of the region are fighting around the clock,” they said.
Lab tests on 17 of the fatalities found that the majority had lethal doses of methanol in the blood systems measuring from 1.36 to 4.13 grams per liter.
Eight poisoning victims were discharged from the hospital “as a result of adequate antidote therapy and thanks to the efforts of doctors,” the ministry said.
At least nine of the deaths were reported in the village of Krasny Chaban in the Dombarovsky district along the Kazakhstan border, local media reported.
Orenburg residents were urged to refrain from consuming any alcoholic beverages pending a probe into the cause of the poisoning. The counterfeit liquor had been poured into both plastic and glass bottles with various labels, authorities said.
Police arrested and jailed three men who were charged in connection with the poisoning incident, while prosecutors have also leveled charges against the owner of the store in which the beverages were sold.