At least 11 dead after drinking bad coconut wine
At least 11 people have died and hundreds have been hospitalised in the Philippines after drinking coconut wine, authorities have said.
Lambanog – a type of alcohol made from coconut sap – has been linked to “mass hospitalisation and deaths” after the drink reportedly gave people methanol poisoning, which can cause blindness, permanent brain damage and death, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The agency warned the public against drinking lambanog that has not been FDA regulated, and said the product believed to have caused the illness is being investigated.
The victims all bought the lambanog from the same local retailer, according to local media.
They reportedly showed symptoms of stomach pains, vomiting and dizziness after ingesting the drink.
The Department of Health (DOH) said 265 people are suspected to have fallen ill after drinking lambanog, which is often consumed over the Christmas period.
Eleazar Matta, the Laguna province police chief, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that 11 people have died so far.
Officials said many patients are from Rizal, a town in Laguna, south of Manila. People have also reportedly fallen ill in nearby Quezon province.
Francisco Duque III, the health secretary, said: “Lambanog poisoning is caused by residual methanol, which in high levels becomes highly toxic for humans.
“Methanol is a naturally occurring substance present during the distilling process, that should be separated and removed thereafter.”
The FDA has repeatedly issued warnings to lambanog brewers over its high methanol content, the DOH said.
Ramil Hernandez, Laguna’s governor, has temporarily banned the local liquor after Rizal residents died.
He offered his prayers for a speedy recovery for those still in hospital.