Authorities in the central province of Ninh Thuan are investigating the deaths of nine people believed to have been killed by alcohol allegedly made with methanol or a particular kind of Chinese yeast, both of which are poisonous.
All the victims were from Phuoc Vinh Commune's Lien Son 2 Village, where four others are being treated for alcohol poisoning, Chamale' Linh, deputy chief of the village, told Thanh Nien.
Linh said the first victim died on March 29, and the second death was recorded on April 25.
They died after drinking alcohol, but local people did not suspect alcohol poisoning as the cause until another six people died between April 27 and 29, he said.
Mang Cach, 50, the latest victim died on May 2, after having a drinking party with Nguyen Van Nga the day before.
Nga, who is among the four people hospitalized with symptoms of alcohol poisoning, said he felt dizzy, and had a pain in his chest, while his vision gradually diminished over the course of that day. He was not rushed to hospital until the next morning, when Cach died.
Speaking to Thanh Nien, Nguyen Mong, chairman of Phuoc Vinh Commune, said local health clinics have taken samples of alcohol from four local shops where the victims bought the liquor.
They found the methanol content in the samples was more than five percent greater than regulations require less than 0.1 percent. Methanol is an industrial chemical used to increase alcohol content.
Following the findings, local police confiscated 40 liters of alcohol from the shops, whose owners said they purchased the liquor from Nguyen Dinh Toan, a resident of a nearby commune.
Toan, who was later summoned by police, claimed that he made the alcohol in accordance with "traditional methods."
Samples of the liquor and those from the victims' vomit have been sent to the Ministry of Public Security's crime science department for further tests, according to local authorities.
Authorities have also ordered an autopsy be conducted on Cach, adding that the other deceased victims were cremated or buried the day they died, in accordance with local customs.
Meanwhile, an inspector told Thanh Nien on the condition of anonymity that the alcohol was probably made with a particular kind of Chinese yeast that was once reported to be used widely among alcohol manufacturers to increase alcohol content and production capacity, despite being poisonous.
Authorities have warned locals not to buy or consume alcohol from local shops.
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