Bath Lotion Deaths: At Least 49 People Died Of Alcohol Poisoning In Russia
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According to the latest death toll, about 49 people in a Siberian city of Irkutsk in Russia died after the victims consumed an alcohol substitute bath lotion containing deadly methanol.
Russian health officials said the victims died of methanol poisoning after drinking the lotion. On Monday, at least 30 people died and another 15 people were in critical condition in various hospitals.
Dubbed as Boyaryshnik (Hawthorn), the bath lotion contains alcohol but the label clearly says that it is not for internal use. An investigation is underway to find out the cause of the poisoning and how the people acquired the bath lotion.
According to WHIO, the local officials in Irkutsk went house-to-house in search for more victims. They declared a state of emergency while the Russian government called for stricter regulation of the alcohol market.
Over the past years, the sale of lotions containing alcohol increased after the country fell into recession under the impact of Western sanctions. The deaths renewed controversy over the vast ingestion of surrogate alcohol in Russia including medical ethanol, window cleaner and perfume.
Though poisonings related to the consumption of alcohol alternatives are a regular occurrence, it has never reached this level. Two people have already been arrested on suspicion of distributing the bath lotion but it is still unclear whether they were marketing the product as a cheaper substitute for alcohol like vodka.
"It is a terrible tragedy," Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, said as reported by Sky News. "This type of problem is well known and the president has been informed. Measures must be taken," he added.
Methanol is a highly toxic form of alcohol and it is considered unfit for ingestion. When a person drinks methanol, it will be metabolized to formaldehyde, a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical, and then to formic acid or formate salts. These salts are poisonous to the central nervous system and may lead to blindness, coma and death.