Turkey death toll from bootleg booze rises to 18

ISTANBUL (AFP) - The death toll in Turkey from drinking bootleg liquor has risen to 18 after six more people died in hospital over the past two days, state media said on Sunday (Nov 1).

The victims had all consumed raki, a strong aniseed-flavoured liquor which is Turkey's national drink, which health authorities believe had been infused with lethal quantities of methyl alcohol.

Another 15 are in critical condition in hospital in Istanbul after drinking the tainted alcohol, the Anatolia news agency said.

It said police have arrested at least 14 people and seized thousands of bottles in several operations across the country.

The suspects have been charged with involuntary homicide.

A total of 89 people have been admitted to hospitals for alcohol poisoning since Wednesday.

In 2005, 22 people died in Turkey from drinking illicit raki.

Distributors at the time blamed successive tax hikes on alcohol, which critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan say are part of a bid by the former Istanbul mayor to impose conservative Islamic restrictions on society.