JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian authorities said at least two dozen people have died in the past day from drinking toxic bootleg liquor, raising the toll to 82 this month and highlighting how attempts to curb legal alcohol have tragically backfired.
National police spokesman Setyo Wasisto said Tuesday that the latest information showed 51 died in West Java in the past several days on top of the 31 who died in the capital, Jakarta, and satellite cities earlier in the month. On Monday, the death toll was 54.
In Cicalengka, near the West Java provincial capital of Bandung, more than 90 people were hospitalized in the past few days.
High taxes on alcohol have spawned a black market for booze among the poor in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, where drinking alcohol is discouraged but not illegal. In 2015, the country banned sales of alcohol from tens of thousands of minimarts and other small stores after pressure from conservative Muslims.
Potentially lethal methanol can be a byproduct of bootleg distilling and the tainted alcohol is also sometimes mixed with soft drinks. In the recent spate of deaths, police said pure alcohol was sometimes combined with ingredients such as cough mixture and insect repellant.