Alcohol poisoning in Bali is being blamed for the death of 20 people and the hospitalization of scores of others. Authorities first became aware of a problem following a party on Saturday, May 23, 2009, at which a punch made of Pepsi Blue, fruit juice and two bottles of locally produced arak api were consumed. Shortly after consuming the beverage used to celebrate a friend's birthday, partygoers became highly intoxicated and nauseous, with several losing consciousness. The victims where rushed to the Denpasar Sanglah General Hospital where an initial 12 young people died from what medical authorities cite as a high concentration of alcohol and methanol.
The mixture of alcohol and methanol combine to form a highly toxic substance akin to formaldehyde, a toxic chemical used to preserve human corpses.
Among those still hospitalized from consuming the liquid are a number of your people listed in critical condition and some who have suffered blindness and kidney failure.
Police have traced some of the lethal arak to a local producer, closed the production facility and apprehended the owner and workers of the distillery for further interrogation. Police have also launched crackdowns on street side warungs where home-made arak is known to be sold.
On Saturday, May 30, 2009, the circle of those killed by the contaminated arak grew by two, bring the total deaths to 20. Among the latest victims is a 59-year-old Englishman, Alan Colin and a 31 year old Indonesian, Bernadus Darmawan, both of Canngu. Both men became ill after drinking arak and died a short time later.
According to the Bali Post the continuing stream of people hospitalized with alcohol poisoning have refused to cooperate with police in telling where they purchased the illegal beverage. Meanwhile, families of the dead victims have refused to allow autopsies to be performed which might provide more information to the authorities investigating the case.
The inability to isolated a single brand of affected arak has caused some health workers to urge absolute avoidance from consuming any of the popular drink, readily available on the island including its sale even at Bali's airport and all local supermarkets.
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