Officials suspect methyl alcohol poisoning was behind the deaths of five people in the southern city of Mersin in one week. Victims were among 21 people hospitalized over suspected alcohol poisoning since last week. All were being treated in two hospitals in the city located on Turkey's Mediterranean coast.
Media outlets reported that two men, aged 65 and 58, were the latest victims announced yesterday. Five hospitalized victims recovered after treatment while 11 others were still being treated.
Police launched an investigation into poisonings and raided four businesses that authorities believe were selling fake liquor. Four suspects have been charged with attempted manslaughter over the deaths and all were released under judiciary control.
Methyl alcohol is a cheaper substitute for ethyl alcohol, an expensive chemical present in the composition of genuine alcoholic drinks and is usually used by sellers of bootleg or fake alcoholic drinks. Bootleg liquor killed 34 people in one month in 2015, the highest death toll from alcohol in the country in such a short period.
Bootleg drinks claimed about 10,000 lives across the world over the past decade and more than 100 people fell victim to the deadly beverages in Turkey in recent years. There is a lucrative, illegal sector of bootlegged, fake alcoholic drinks in the face of steep taxes. Methyl alcohol is an ingredient in industrial substances like varnish, which are lethal if ingested.