October 1, 2018 – Tehran, Iran
On September 29, 2018, , an English language online news source from Iran, reported that a rash of dodgy booze consumption had led to the death of 27 people across a wide swath of Iranian provinces. Along with the 27 confirmed dead at the time of the story, it was reported that over 300 had sought treatment at hospitals and clinics exhibiting signs of methanol poisoning. Officials at hospitals and clinics in Bandar Abbas, Karaj and Bojnourd reported treating patients with dialysis in attempts to cleanse the methanol from the blood of victims.
First reports of the deadly poisonings began on Wednesday night and increased to a peak on Friday morning. Iranian officials immediately began investigating the source of the toxic booze, pinpointing at least one fake alcohol workshop in a Hormonzgan apartment. Police arrested three suspects in the apartment that was turned into a fake alcohol producing facility. Police cautioned that this may not be the only source of the toxic booze and have instituted an awareness campaign to warn against consuming any alcohol.
In an updated story published by the on October 1, 2018, the death toll has been revised to 42 with an increase expected based on the number of patients who remain in critical condition in ICU’s plus the over 160 people who are receiving dialysis.
In this latest outbreak of toxic booze poisoning, Iranian Health officials have told the BBC that they believe that the current count as of the morning of October 1, 2018 is that 460 people across 5 Provinces have been admitted with symptoms of Methanol Poisoning.
The BBC is reporting that the youngest patient admitted is a 19-year-old woman, however this contradicts initial reports from the original story that was published on Iran Front Page that quoted officials as saying that victims ranged in age from 15 to 60 years old. The BBC is also stating that officially 16 people have gone blind from consuming the alcoholic beverages. Blindness is a common result of consuming Methanol as well as paralysis, organ failure, and death.
Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 alcohol has been banned in this predominately Muslim Nation with home production exceptions granted for non-Muslim citizens for personal consumption and religious uses. The prescribed punishment for alcohol consumption by a Muslim under Article 265 of the Islamic Penal Code is 80 lashes.
Although alcohol poisonings since 1979 in Iran is significant, this current episode is one of the largest mass casualties attributed to toxic booze. Fundamental blame is being placed on the recent devaluation of the Iranian currency which forces people to seek cheaper alternatives to the expensive foreign liquor that is smuggled into the country. The BBC states that Iranian anti-drug officials estimate that 80 million liters of alcohol with a street value of $730 million is smuggled into Iran annually.
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