TEHRAN (AFP) – Fifteen people have died in southern Iran after drinking homemade alcohol apparently laced with the poisonous chemical methanol, the Kayhan newspaper reported.
“Six people from Arzuyeh region, intoxicated by homemade alcohol, were brought in. Two died and one is blind,” the director of Sirjan hospital, Ali Fakher, told the paper Wednesday.
“Thirteen other people had died in the days before that,” he added.
The production and consumption of alcohol has been banned in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Nevertheless, the making of potent home brews and the illegal import of beverages is common.
Producers, however, frequently mix in methanol — a highly poisonous industrial alcohol used in anti-freeze or dyes that can kill, blind and cause serious damage to the liver and kidneys.
In June 2004, 24 people were killed by such a mixture in the southern city of Shiraz.
Those caught breaking the strict rules banning the production, possession, trade or consumption of alcohol are subject to strict punishment, including prison terms of up to few years, heavy fines or lashes.
Frequent offenders can face the death penalty.