Adulterated cider kills 16 in Russia, dozens sick

A view shows boxes of bottles at a factory where the alcohol-containing drink called "Mister Cider", which caused poisonings and deaths, was produced, in Samara, Russia, in this still image taken from video released June 5, 2023. Investigative Committee of Russia for the Samara Region/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) -At least 16 people have died and dozens more have fallen ill after drinking adulterated cider in western Russia’s Ulyanovsk region, local officials said on Monday.

Local governor Alexei Russkikh said the product – labelled “Mister Cider” – had been sold on tap after being brought into the region in 30 litre kegs.

According to local media, the cider contained lethal amounts of methanol, also known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol and much more toxic than the ethanol found in regular alcoholic drinks.

Authorities detained one person on suspicion of causing death through negligence and ordered the affected goods to be removed from sale.

Russkikh said intensive care beds were being set up across the region, located on the river Volga, and that 19 people had been admitted to hospital.

“Doctors are fighting to save the lives of each of them,” he said.

Russia tightened controls on the production and sale of alcohol after 77 people died drinking cheap moonshine in Siberia in 2016, but the consumption of homemade alcohol remains a problem.

Twenty-nine people died in a single incident in 2021 after consuming locally produced spirits that contained methanol.

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