April 11 (UPI) — At least 82 people have died in Indonesia from consuming toxic bootleg alcohol in the past two weeks, prompting the arrests of seven people.
More than 100 others have been hospitalized over the tainted homemade booze in and around West Java’s capital city of Bandung, Bandung Health Agency head Ahmad Kustijadi said in a Jakarta Post report.
Jakarta police say seven people have been arrested for selling the alcohol, which contains methanol, a colorless, inflammable and toxic chemical compound used as an antifreeze, a solvent and as fuel.
Bootleg alcohol seized during police operations found that drinks contained anywhere between 95 to 97 percent pure alcohol mixed with other substances, like energy drinks, syrups and carbonated beverages.
National Police deputy chief Cmdr. Gen. Syafruddin said the police force would conduct operations throughout the country to end the distribution of the toxic alcohol.
“If you count the number of victims from all over Indonesia, I believe it could be 100 people. This is serious. Too many have died,” Syarifuddin said.
Syafruddin said that those found to be producing and distributing the bootleg booze would face maximum punishment. The commander vowed to end the problem immediately.
“I have given them a target to finish this problem this month. There will be zero bootleg liquor in Indonesia. There will be no more bootleg liquor this Ramadhan,” Syafruddin said during a news conference on Wednesday.
People in Bandung could buy 600-milliliter bottles of the drinks for roughly $1.40 each. Alcohol in Indonesia, a predominately Muslim country, is regulated and subject to high taxation. Sugianto Tandra, researcher for the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies told the Jakarta Post those regulations are tied with the rise of bootleg-related deaths.