The Bali police have advised tourists and locals to avoid drinking unlabelled drinks after 25 people have died in just one week from drinking arak, a local Balinese alcoholic beverage that contained methanol.
Gde Sugianyar, Bali police spokesman advised Balinese and tourists to avoid unlabelled drinks as a precaution.
“We have been watching and conducting raids across Bali especially arak sellers who sell their liquor from jerry cans. We asked Balinese to stop buying unlabelled arak until we find what exactly caused the deaths,” Sugianyar told Reuters.
The deaths include Rene Puper, 23, from the Netherlands and his Irish girlfriend Rachel Maria Craig, 25. American Rose Johnson, 48, from Phoenix and British grandfather Alan Cole who had been living in Bali for the past 13 years.
Several more foreigners and have died from drinking the methanol tainted palm wine arak. Rose Johnson died on Sunday and Alan Colen, 59 from died on Saturday. He had been living in Bali for 13 years.
Other victims include Rachel Craig, 22, from the Irish Republic, and Rene Puper, 23, her Dutch boyfriend according to the Times Online.
“There was nothing we could do for him,” Dr Ida Bagus Alit, of Sanglah Hospital, told The Times. “When methanol gets into the bloodstream the victim deteriorates very quickly. It attacks the eyes, the liver and the kidneys. A very small amount of methanol — as little as 60ml — can kill you.”
Police have arrested the owner of an arak factory after finding arak containing methanol. Reports suggest that death from drinking the tainted alcohol is slow and painful, with victims experiencing vomiting, seizures and pain to their eyes.
Here is one of the comments on the Times article:
The insidious aspect of this story is that the victims could not have known that what they were drinking would kill them. In fact, the methanol did not kill them, the toxic formaldehyde produced by methanol oxidation in the human system is what killed them. A terrible, excruciating death for anyone.
Perhaps this will lead to a softening of the high taxes on alcohol. I guess we will at least have to wait until after the election.
There have been several reports recently in the Jakarta Post of people dying from alcohol poisoning from drinking the local drink arak. On Sunday Phoenix artist Rose Johnson 48, died after drinking arak on the island of Bali.
Home brewed arak is often mixed with methanol to increase the strength of the beverage. Due to heavy duties, imported spirits are very expensive in Bali. Arak is a cheap alternative and enjoyed by local Balinese and tourists alike.