At least 42 people have died and another seven remain in hospital after consuming adulterated alcohol since last week in the Dominican Republic, official sources reported on Thursday.
“We have a number of 42 deceased and three clandestine factories dismantled,” Dominican Health Minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas told Efe, who announced that this Friday he will offer more details about the case.
The official assured that the laboratory results handled so far indicate that more than 50% of the victims did not consume ethanol but another chemical component with a high degree of mortality.
“So far we have 7 intoxicated in a hospital condition and we understand that the authorities have apprehended about five people related to the production of that clandestine alcohol,” said Sánchez Cárdenas.
The first deaths by the clergy occurred between April 6 and 7, when six people died successively in the Brisa del Este sector of the city of Santo Domingo Este after ingesting that drink.
Later, other cases occurred in humble sectors of the Santo Domingo metropolitan region and also in other cities, including Constanza, located in the Central Cordillera.
Last Tuesday, the minister revealed that the number of deaths due to the consumption of cleric and triculí, another home-made drink widely distributed clandestinely in the country, had increased to 31 people.
According to Sánchez Cárdenas, the adulterated bottles of cleric and triculí were sold “in grocery stores and supermarkets” in the capital and its metropolitan region.
Both the health authorities and the Prosecutor’s Office have opened investigations to determine the nature of the product and to identify the manufacturers.
The Government, the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office have urged the population to limit alcohol consumption during the period of confinement decreed by the coronavirus pandemic and, in particular, have called for the consumption of illegal beverages to be avoided.
Clerén and triculí are very cheap cane distillates, made in an artisanal and clandestine way, without permission from the health authorities, which do not consider them suitable for human consumption.
These beverages can be contaminated with methanol, a very toxic alcohol, when the manufacturer distills woods to use them as raw material or as a flavoring or by adding solvents to make the product cheaper.