8 more die in Mexico from methanol-tainted liquor

MEXICO CITY - At least eight more people in Mexico have died from drinking alcohol adulterated with methanol, the latest round of mass alcohol poisoning incidents that have cost around a hundred lives in the country.

Authorities in the southern state of Guerrero said Friday the deaths occurred near the mountain city of Tlapa de Comonfort, after inhabitants drank a tequila-type drink of a little-known brand called “Rancho Escondido.”

The Guerrero Health Department said the liquor was labeled as “distilled agave,” the cactus-like plant from which both tequila and mescal are made. Because tequila production is strictly limited to certain regions, drinks made outside those areas are sometimes labelled “agave Liquor.”

The department said the victims were admitted to hospitals in such serious condition that they rapidly died. Authorities seized 505 bottles of the liquor from four stores in the area.

Such deaths have mounted in Mexico since coronavirus lockdowns began and many towns banned legitimate liquor sales. Many people also lost their jobs and apparently became unable to buy more professionally made liquors. But officials have not said whether the poisonings have arisen from either of those factors.

In May, authorities said as many as 40 people died after drinking methanol in two states in central Mexico. The suspect liquor in that case was a little-known brand called “Refino,” which translates roughly as “very fine.”

In late April, 25 people died in the state of Jalisco after drinking a cheap brand of cane alcohol known as “El Chorrito.”

Local media reported seven people died of methanol poisoning recently in the Yucatan village of Acanceh.

Methanol is a poisonous cousin of the ethanol alcohol in normal liquors and cannot be smelled or tasted in drinks. It causes organ and brain damage, and its symptoms include chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness and even coma.


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