LONDON: Eight people have died from alcohol poisoning after drinking homemade concoctions in the Iranian city of Bandar Abbas.
Local media reported that another 51 people had been hospitalized. Health official Dr. Fatemeh Nowruzian told a news conference that 17 of those hospitalized were in a critical condition in intensive care, while another 30 were undergoing dialysis to clear their systems.
Producing and distributing alcohol are strictly prohibited in Iran. Local police said they had arrested eight people for the manufacture and selling of the illicit drinks. The punishment for consuming alcohol can include 80 lashes.
It was not disclosed what caused the poisoning in the homemade drinks, but in recent years many Iranians have died after drinking illicit alcohol containing lethal amounts of methanol, which can cause blindness or death if ingested, even in small amounts. It is often added in homemade illegal drink production to increase the alcohol count.
Methanol poisonings rose sharply in Iran at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic after rumors spread that alcohol consumption could prevent infection.
The Health Ministry announced in April 2020 that some 500 people had died and a further 5,000 were treated for alcohol poisoning over just three months.