Methanol poisoning suspected for seven deaths in Lai Chau
Methanol in a local brewed spirit is the prime suspect for the death of seven people in Lai Chau Province, according to local health officers.
A man who is treated for methanol poisoning at a hospital in Lai Chau Province on February 14
A report issued by the provincial Health Department on February 14 said that initial results from autopsy and other tests on the victims being treated at hospitals showed that ethanol was the main cause.
"They all had the same symptoms including dizzy, headache, stomach ache, and vomiting," the report said. We're co-operating with the Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi for further investigation."
According to local authorities, seven people have died and 31 others were still in hospital by February 14. The victims were all middle-aged men of Ha Nhi ethnic minority group.
On February 10, Phu Van Leng, 60, organised a lunch party at his home with food and rice wine. In the evening, he experienced a headache, stomach ache, vomiting and died at 10pm.
Leng's family held a funeral for him on February 11 and 12 and many villagers came to help and then had meals at his home. The foods included dog meat, chicken, tofu, and rice wine.
On February 13, many people, mostly men, started showing similar symptoms as Leng and were rushed to hospitals. Six died on that day and more than 30 are still being treated.
A doctor from the Poison Control Centre of the Bach Mai Hospital, Nguyen Trung Nguyen said that methanol is the simplest form of alcohol and is an important industrial material. However, methanol is used by many spirit traders to make poor quality rice wine in Vietnam.
"Methanol poisoning has a very low rate of recovery," Nguyen said, adding that it usually leaves serious injuries to the eyes and brain.