At least 11 dead after drinking toxic festive drink during Christmas celebrations in the Philippines
This is the second year in a row in which several people have died from lambanog poisoning.
At least 11 people have died and hundreds of people have been hospitalised after drinking contaminated coconut wine, known as lambanog, in two provinces in the Philippines.
The general public has been warned to carefully assess their liquor purchases after cases of poisoning were reported in the provinces of Laguna and Quezon related to the consumption of lambanog, a popular festive drink in the Philippines with an alcohol volume of 40-45%.
According to the state-run Philippine News Agency, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace was “alarmed” over the reported cases of suspected lambanog poisoning, especially during the holidays where alcohol is usually present at parties.
Panelo cautioned the public against purchasing alcohol that is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which says the alcoholic beverage tested positive for high levels of methanol, a prohibited additive in Lambanog, which is suspected to have caused the deaths.
A number of people also died from lambanog poisoning in December last year.
“We remind the public that they should always check whether their alcohol purchases, or any product that they consume for that matter, have been registered or approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” Panelo said.
“Prudence dictates that we should always be mindful of what we ingest, particularly during this time of merrymaking,” he added.
The Philippine News Agency reports that people started being rushed to hospitals after showing signs of poisoning such as stomach ache, dizziness and vomiting on Sunday afternoon (22 December).
The victims were taken to nearby health centres and hospitals in San Pablo, Laguna while others were brought to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila because of the large number of victims.
According to police in Laguna, victims drank the lambanog bought from a retailer based in Barangay Pook in Rizal town, Laguna.
The owner of a lambanog distillery surrendered to authorities on Monday and promised to help shoulder the victims' expenses.
A temporary ban on the sale of lambanog has been ordered across the province of Laguna by Governor Ramil Hernandez, while police in Quezon have ordered the closure of the store which sold the drink.