PETALING JAYA (BERNAMA, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Up to 19 men have died and 14 hospitalised since Monday night (Sept 17) from suspected poisoning after having consumed alcoholic drinks, said Malaysian police.
According to the Health Ministry, the total number of cases involving methanol poisoning rose to 51, comprising 45 cases in Selangor, and six in Kuala Lumpur.
Selangor chief police officer Mazlan Mansor said on Tuesday that the dead men comprised Malaysians as well as foreign nationals. They were believed to have consumed two brands of whiskey and a brand of beer, police said in a statement.
According to The Star, based on accounts by the victims, they had consumed three brands of alcoholic beverages - Mandalay Whiskey, King Fisher Beer and Grand Royal Whiskey - which were purchased from various shops in the Klang Valley, the wider area in Selangor state that surrounds capital Kuala Lumpur.
According to Datuk Mazlan, the victims's symptoms included vomiting, and they were treated for suspected alcohol poisoning at hospitals in Sungai Buloh, Gombak, Kajang, Klang and Shah Alam.
"We are waiting for full post-mortem reports," he said, adding that the cases have been classified as sudden deaths.
So far, the nationalities of 19 victims have been identified, said Mr Mazlan. There were two Malaysians, 15 Nepalese and two Bangladeshis.
All the victims who were hospitalised have a history of consuming compounded hard liquor, said the Health Ministry.
"Samples of the alcoholic beverage taken during the investigation at the sale premises have been sent to the Sungai Buloh National Public Health Laboratory to be examined and analysed,” Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 18).
“All the necessary lab tests have been conducted including taking blood and urine samples from the victims which were later submitted to the forensic lab in the Sungai Buloh Hospital for further analysis,” he said.
“From the total (51 cases), three of the victims are Malaysians while 48 of them are foreigners from Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh and India,” said Datuk Noor Hisham.
He also noted that 14 victims are still warded and in critical condition.
“Nine of them have been moved to the hospital ward for further treatment and care, while another nine victims have been allowed to return home after getting treatment.
“The total number is expected to increase, with more patients coming in for the treatment of methanol poisoning,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham noted that a police report had been lodged by the Ministry to investigate the supplier, beverage manufacturer, and source of the poisoning, as well as to stop the selling of compounded hard liquor in the market.
“The Ministry will continue to cooperate with other agencies including the police to control and monitor the situation involving alcohol poisoning," he said.
Following a surge of reports on those admitted to hospitals in Selangor after consuming alcohol, police initiated an investigation and confiscated at least 20 boxes of various alcohol brands from two grocery shops in Jalan Industri 6, Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh.