At least 16 people have died and two others are in intensive care in Lithuania after consuming homemade alcohol.
The poisonings have all occurred in a district of the country’s second-largest city Kaunas.
The deaths were reported within 10 days of each other and the ages of the victims, both men and women, ranged from 30 to 60 years.
“The pre-trial investigations were initiated after receiving information from Kaunas medical institutions that over the past month, people who consumed strong home-made alcoholic beverages were found dead or died soon after being brought to a medical institution,” prosecutor Aukse Lipkeviciene from Kaunas Regional Prosecutor’s Office told journalists on Tuesday.
A total of 17 pre-trial investigations have already been launched.
Searches were carried out in several locations of Kaunas’ Aleksotas district. Officials did not disclose the exact number but, according to them, there was more than one distribution point of the homemade alcohol.
The fluids found are still being investigated, but according to the initial medical assessment, people died of poisoning with methyl alcohol.
Jonas Surkus, a toxicologist at the nephrology unit of Kaunas Clinics says it‘s probably the most poisonous surrogate of alcohol.
“It’s insidious because in terms of its characteristics — taste and smell — it almost does not differ from ethanol – from usual alcohol.
One female suspect has been detained, accused of a negligent deprivation of life after a man in her neighbourhood died of alcohol poisoning.
Another person was also suspected of illegal distribution of alcohol but he died of poisoning on Monday night.