- Costa Rica Ministry of Health
- Nineteen people have died under suspicious circumstances in Costa Rica since June 2 after drinking alcohol tainted with methanol, the country’s health ministry said.
- Officials are warning citizens and vendors against six particular brands of liquor, adding that there may be counterfeit products on the market.
- Authorities have confiscated 30,000 bottles of liquor so far.
- Unscrupulous sellers around the world often add methanol to alcohol to increase the amount of liquid sold and its potency.
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At least 19 people have died after consuming alcohol tainted with methanol in Costa Rica, the country’s health ministry said in an alert.
Fourteen men and five women around the country died under suspicious circumstances after drinking the tainted alcohol between June 2 and July 20, the Costa Rican Health Ministry said in a Friday statement.
Their names have not been released.
The map below shows the approximate locations of where 17 of the deaths took place. The ministry has not released the location of two of the deaths.
- Google Maps/INSIDER
Health officials said on Friday that they had confiscated 30,000 bottles of liquor suspected to be tainted.
They include alcohol – mostly brandy – under the brands: “Guaro Montano”, “Guaro Gran Apache”, “Star Welsh”, “Aguardiente Barón Rojo”, “Aguardiente Timbuka” and “Aguardiente Molotov.”
Because all these brands are registered with the health ministry, authorities believe the tainted alcohol was in counterfeit products, the ministry said in a Thursday statement.
However, “in view of the impossibility of distinguishing between the originals and the adulterated ones,” health authorities have told people to avoid consuming or selling all products with those labels.
The perpetrators of the tainted alcohol remain unknown. The health ministry says investigations are ongoing.
- Luis Tamayo via Wikimedia Commons
Unscrupulous sellers often add methanol to alcohol to increase the amount of liquid sold and its potency, said Safeproof, a group that lobbies against counterfeit alcohol.
Consuming even the smallest amount of the substance can make a person violently ill or even kill them, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
It is impossible to see, smell, or taste it, which makes it particularly dangerous.