22 people died in Istanbul from poisoning with contraband alcohol

At least 22 people have died in Istanbul, and another 16 have been hospitalized and in serious condition after consuming counterfeit alcohol, the local governor’s office said Friday, as authorities intensified the crackdown on counterfeit drinks across Turkey ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The governor of Istanbul said in a statement that eleven of those killed and five of those who fell ill were foreign nationals. He did not elaborate or provide details on the nationality of the victims.

The statement said that four suspects were arrested in connection with the loss of life.

State agency Anadolu said Thursday that 26 people have died from methyl alcohol and alcohol poisoning in nine provinces in Turkey, including Istanbul, in the past four days.

Authorities have launched a nationwide operation to curb illicit alcohol production by raiding approximately 300 locations and seizing thousands of liters of counterfeit alcohol, the report said. At least 85 suspects were detained.

Deaths from illegal alcohol are not uncommon in Turkey, where people, faced with ever-increasing prices for alcoholic beverages, tend to buy cheaper drinks or switch to homemade drinks. Rising inflation, government taxes and alcohol regulation have pushed alcohol prices to record highs. [AP]

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