11 dead in Philippines after drinking spurious liquor

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 24, 2019
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At least 11 people have died and up to 300 fallen sick from drinking cheap spurious liquor containing toxic methanol in the Philippines, local officials said on Monday.

Mayor Vener Munoz of Rizal town in Laguna Province in the Northern Philippines said 10 died in separate incidents in his town after attending birthday and Christmas parties on Friday. Six others are in critical condition in a hospital in Manila, he added. Many of the victims are being treated in a number of hospitals in Manila.

A resident of Candelaria town in Quezon province in the Northern Philippines also died and two others slipped into a coma after drinking coconut liquor on Sunday, local officials said.

The Philippine presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo expressed alarm over the liquor poisoning.

"Prudence dictates that we should always be mindful of what we ingest, particularly during this is the time of merrymaking," Panelo told a news conference at the presidential palace on Monday.

Laguna Province Governor Ramil Hernandez has issued an order banning the selling of the liquor in the whole province in light of the poisoning incidents.

A police investigation is underway to track down the makers of the illicit liquor consumed by the victims.

The artisanal liquor, locally known as "lambanog," is created from the dripping nectar of the coconut flower. Using bamboo poles as bridges, local farmers move from one tree to the next to collect the fresh coconut sap, a major ingredient in producing the liquor.

Using a centuries-old tradition of natural fermentation and distillation, local producers convert the sweet and frothy nectar into a liquor.

In 2018 at least 21 people died in the provinces of Laguna, Rizal and Tarlac in the northern Philippines after drinking the tainted liquor. The Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines found the deadly liquor contains a high level of methanol, a prohibitive additive in lambanog.

Some producers use a mixture of toxic chemicals instead of natural fermentation and distillation process to produce the distinct "lambanog" aroma.

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