QUITO – The number of deaths from drinking toxic liquor in Ecuador has risen to 50, following the death of two more people from that cause, the Health Ministry said.
A statistic released by the ministry also said that a total of 244 cases of poisoning from drinking adulterated alcohol have now been confirmed, while another 355 patients remain on the list of possible poisoning victims.
As of Aug. 25 the number of deaths from the toxic drink was 48, but on Thursday one person was reported dead in the Andean province of Azuay and another in the Amazon province of Napo.
Fatalities from drinking liquor mixed with methanol were first detected on July 14, when 20 cases were reported in the southwestern coastal province of Los Rios.
The poisoning cases spread to other provinces, which prompted the government to declare a nationwide “state of emergency” and to ban liquor consumption in a number of areas.
The center for the sale of adulterated alcohol was located in Guayas province and the product was found to have been marketed as “unbottled aguardiente” and in containers of branded fruit liquors “but without health certification,” Deputy Health Minister Nicolas Jara said recently.
The latest ministry figures show that 14 cases of blindness from drinking the toxic liquor have also been reported, of whom three have died.
More than 15 brands of liquor have been banned by Ecuadorian health authorities, who have launched an operation of the greatest urgency to remove the adulterated alcohol from the market.
At the end of August a judge jailed the manager of the suspected bottling plant for the toxic liquor.
Some 50 people are also under investigation by federal prosecutors for marketing bottles of adulterated alcohol. EFE