Russians offered food for alcohol after contraband alcohol killed 34 people

Authorities in central Russia said on Sunday they were offering food in exchange for alcohol after 34 people died after drinking contraband alcohol containing highly toxic methanol.

Deaths are the latest in Russia due to the consumption of a cheap alcohol substitute, a persistent problem in a country where 21 million people live below the poverty line.

In the Orenburg region, about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) southeast of Moscow in the southern Urals, 67 people have been shot dead by the consumption of adulterated alcohol in the past week alone.

Thirty-four of them died, according to a statement from local authorities quoted by the TASS news agency.

Tests showed that the victims had consumed alcohol containing methanol, which, unlike ethanol – the usual form of alcohol found in drinks – is highly toxic and can cause blindness even in the dark. very low dose.

In some cases, the concentration in the body was three to five times greater than a lethal dose.

As the quantity of toxic alcohol already sold is unknown, the authorities of the region offer residents of the eastern part of the Orenburg region groceries in local supermarkets in exchange for “alcoholic drinks of questionable quality”, Tass reported.

The price of the proposed food will be “several times that of alcohol”, according to the press release.

According to Orenburg police, thousands of bottles of suspicious alcohol were seized from shops and warehouses in the region. Tests showed that many of these bottles contained the lethal methanol.

The Orenburg branch of the Investigation Committee, which is investigating major crimes in Russia, said 10 people had been arrested in connection with the deaths, for producing adulterated alcohol.

The deaths come less than a year after seven people died in the Russian Far Eastern Republic of Yakutia in November after consuming diluted hand sanitizer.

The biggest smuggled alcohol-related tragedy in recent memory occurred in 2016, when dozens of people died in the Siberian city of Irkutsk after drinking bath oil containing the toxic substance methanol. used in antifreeze.

After the deaths, a Kremlin spokesman said the tragedy required “great attention.”

Russian authorities have tightened the law since the 2016 deaths, but the sale of contraband alcohol remains rife.

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