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Death toll rises to 30 due to liquor adulterated with methanol

October 27, 2020

At least 30 people have died in recent weeks in Costa Rica from the consumption of alcoholic beverages adulterated with methanol, the Health Ministry reported Tuesday.

The agency indicated that it registered 65 cases of methanol poisoning — of which 30 died, comprising 27 men and three women — all in the month of October.

The poisonings stem the consumption of a sugarcane distillate called guaro that has illegally been adulterated with methanol. Police and health authorities have mobilized in San José and nearby cities in the Greater Metropolitan Area where the cases have been detected.

The Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) inspected 308 commercial establishments and seized more than 16,000 products on suspicion of being used in methanol poisoning, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Authorities advise against consuming the following liquor brands: Guaro Chonete, Guaro Cuerazo, Guaro Sacheto, Guaro Gran Apache, Aguardiente Estrella Roja, Guaro Montano, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka, Aguardiente Molotov or Guaro Fiesta Blanca.

Contact 9-1-1 if a person or establishment is selling counterfeit and/or methanol-tainted liquor.

Methanol poisoning can cause severe vomiting, agitation, disorientation, blindness, seizures, or visual disturbances, and in many cases leads to death.

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