Arrests made in Turkey probe into illicit alcohol deaths

The death toll from the latest bootleg alcohol outbreak in Turkey has topped 80, with hundreds of people questioned and around 100 taken into custody as investigations continue.

Tons of suspect liquor have been seized across the company as the authorities try to puzzle out the network that allowed the illicit drinks to be distributed across Turkey, leading to fatalities in provinces around the country.

The worst affected remains Izmir, where 35 deaths have occurred, with fatalities also reported in Aydin, Mugla, Kirikkale, Kirklareli, Yekirdag, Zonguldak, Trabzon and Samsun, according to local news reports.

Methanol contamination can cause serious side effects including blindness and paralysis when ingested even in fairly small quantities. Serious health complications can also occur however even in the absence of the chemical, for example if ethyl alcohol is present in dangerously high proportions.

An update from Turkey’s Interior Ministry says that some of the fake liquors that have resulted in deaths are based on cleaning chemicals, including some based on ethyl alcohol with a high methanol content.

It has also confirmed that 40 of the 100 detained suspects have been formally arrested and are being questioned in connection with the recent deaths.

“161,062 litres and 6,102 bottles of counterfeit/bootleg alcoholic beverages were seized in operations carried out between October 5 and October 23, when the cases of alcoholic drink poisoning were first observed by our police and gendarmerie units,” said the Ministry.

This year so far, 2,430 operations against illegal alcohol have been carried out by the General Directorate of Security and Gendarmerie General Command Units, with legal proceedings started against more than 3,500 suspects and more than a million litres of alcohol seized.

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