82 die in Indonesia after drinking home-made alcohol

INDONESIA: Bootleg alcohol kills dozens in weeks

Deputy Chief of National Police Muhammad Syafruddin said in a Jakarta press conference that 51 people died in West Java province since Friday when the affected were taken to hospitals, Efe news reported.

Indonesian police remove bottles of illegal alcohol from a house in Cicalengka district in West Java province on April 8, 2018.

More than 50 people have died in little more than a week after drinking bootleg liquor in western Indonesia, including in the capital, Jakarta, officials said Monday.

"This is a insane phenomenon", said Syafruddin, standing in front of seven handcuffed suspects at a press conference.

At least nine people have been arrested as of Tuesday, but authorities are still looking for major distributors of the bootleg booze which is usually sold under the table by street vendors, who sometimes make the toxic concoction themselves. "If we let it continue, it will harm the nation", he added.

Police found that the bootleg liquor they had seized during the operations contained 96 to 98 percent pure alcohol mixed with other substances, like energy drinks, syrup or carbonated drinks.

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It's unclear how effective the crackdown will be.

Jakarta police say seven people have been arrested for selling the alcohol, which contains methanol, a colorless, inflammable and toxic chemical compound used as an antifreeze, a solvent and as fuel.

"The current incidence of rampant bootleg alcohol is because there is a need to drink but the product is not available in the legal market", he said.

Police on Wednesday said 82 people died on Indonesia's Java island after drinking home-made alcohol.

But the latest cluster of fatalities is extreme, leading to speculation that a single large distributor was responsible. There were six deaths from drinking compromised liquor in the easternmost region of Papua in late March.

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