Nov. 3, 2015—Counterfeit alcohol has killed 19 people in Istanbul in the last few days, with the finger of blame pointing to bottles of the national liquor raki.
All told, 89 people have been admitted to hospital after drinking the counterfeit spirit and 15 of these are dangerously ill, according to local press reports. The counterfeit raki—an aniseed-flavored liquor—contained dangerously high levels of methanol (also known as methyl alcohol).
Ingesting methanol can lead to damage to the eyes, skin, respiratory system, central nervous system and gastrointestinal tracts, with high levels of exposure leading to coma and death, mainly caused by central nervous system (CNS) damage.
The incident has sparked criticism of the Turkish government's tax policy, which means that genuine raki is priced at up to 40 lira (around $14) while the bootleg bottles can be had for as little as 5 lira, according to national newspaper Hurriyet.
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