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Ecuador bans alcohol after 23 die of intoxication

posted 18 Jul 2011, 14:56 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Jul 2011, 14:59 ]

Ecuador imposes a temporary nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol after 23 people die from drinking tainted liquor.


A three-day alcohol ban came into effect in Ecuador on Sunday (July 17) after 23 people died from drinking liquor tainted with methanol.

Authorities have declared a health emergency and temporarily suspended the sale and consumption of booze in the whole Andean country in an attempt to seize the deadly liquor.

Most of the victims were from the Los Rios province, where dozens people have been hospitalized with intoxication symptoms since last week, and hundreds are still waiting to undergo exams.

In the province's capital Babahoyo, Ecuador's Health Minister David Chiriboga said the government was giving free treatment.

"We are carrying out an operation to provide medicine and medical supplies for the patients so that there is no cost for the families," he said.

Dozens of people lined up outside the hospital, afraid they could have been contaminated by the liquor.

"I drank it with some friends last week, on Wednesday, and that's why I came here to undergo exams," said one man.

The homemade aguardiente was sold in five provinces and officials have confirmed that two people died outside Los Rios, raising the death toll to 23.

The nationwide 72-hour ban could be extended until authorities manage to seize all bottles of the bootleg liquor that provoked headaches, vomits and vision loss.

So far, officers have seized 28 containers, each with 55 gallons of homemade alcohol contaminated with methanol, and 3,239 liters of liquor.