KUALA LUMPUR: The death toll from an alcohol poisoning case in Malaysia has risen further, with at least 29 people dead, authorities said on Friday (Sep 21).
Another 47 people have been hospitalised with methanol poisoning, some of them in critical condition.
Nine of those who died were Malaysians, while the rest included foreigners from Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh, Health Director-General Datuk Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement.
Cheap, homemade liquor is popular among poor, migrant workers in Malaysia, which has high taxes on alcohol.
Methanol, an alcohol compound used in making spurious liquor, is harmless in tiny amounts but lethal in larger concentrations.
Police said the victims are believed to have consumed two brands of whiskey and a brand of beer bought from various shops. Local reports have identified the three brands as Mandalay Whiskey, King Fisher Beer and Grand Royal Whiskey.
Authorities have raided hundreds of shops in Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding state of Selangor and seized huge stashes of alcohol as they sought to take the tainted alcohol off the market.
At least nine people have been arrested so far.
Police are investigating the deaths as culpable homicide, which carries a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine, or both.
Malaysian health authorities have urged those with symptoms of methanol poisoning such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches and vision loss after consuming alcoholic beverages to seek medical attention immediately.