Cuban death toll from methanol sold as rum climbs to 11

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 02, 2013 5:20 PM
Cuban death toll from methanol sold as rum climbs to 11

HAVANA (Reuters) - Eleven Cubans have died this week and more than 60 are in hospital after consuming toxic industrial methanol sold as rum, state media reported on Friday.

The toll was up from seven dead and more than 40 hospitalized, as first reported by the Public Health Ministry on Wednesday in Cuba's worst mass poisoning incident in at least a decade.

The poisoning cases emerged starting on Monday in the La Lisa municipality of Havana after poisonous wood alcohol was stolen from a warehouse and then passed off as rum, according to authorities.

Three suspects have been taken into custody, although their identities and the charges they face have not been released.

Cuban media have since been filled with stories related to the poisoning and warnings to people to watch what they drink, including graphic medical descriptions of how methyl alcohol can quickly make people blind.

Many survivors have said the phony rum tasted so bad they took only a few sips.

(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)