QUITO – The death toll from drinking adulterated homemade liquor in the Ecuadorian province of Los Rios has risen to 14, President Rafael Correa said Saturday while appealing to those in the area who have consumed the product to see a doctor immediately.
“Fourteen people have already died from drinking the adulterated alcohol. Please, anyone who has drunk liquor and begins to feel bad should go to the nearest medical center immediately,” Correa said in his regular weekly report broadcast on radio and television.
The head of state, who called the incident a “tragedy,” asked his fellow countrymen not to drink in excess and said that “most domestic violence and sex crimes are perpetrated under the effects of alcohol.”
In his Saturday activities report broadcast from the Andean town of Zumbahua, he said that the problem of alcoholism is very grave among Indians and, after commenting that “having a drink now and then is fine, acceptable,” he asked people to check to make sure the liquor they drink is of good quality.
The victims of poisoning drank a homemade alcoholic beverage between Wednesday and Thursday in the town of Urdaneta, located in the western province of Los Rios, the local TV network Ecuavisa said Friday.
Those who died in hospital had suffered such symptoms as dizziness, bodily pain and even blindness, as have those who are still being treated.
The authorities have detained one person and have impounded dozens of gallons of the homemade liquor.
“He couldn’t breathe, so I took him (to the hospital) but he was almost purple, vomiting a sort of colored water, and in two hours he had that convulsion,” Emilio Espinoza, brother of one of the fatalities, said.