The Iranian Health Ministry says the death toll in a recent spate of incidents involving bootleg alcohol has increased to 42. Ministry spokesman Iraj Harirchi said on October 1 that a total of 460 people in five provinces were hospitalized in the past three weeks after drinking tainted liquor. Harirchi said that 16 went blind and 170 people underwent dialysis.
Mohammad Sadegh Akbari, the chief justice in the southern province of
Hormozgan, said that seven people have so far been detained for alleged
involvement in producing and selling the tainted drink.
Last week, police in the port city of Bandar Abbas, which is located in Hormozgan, said they arrested a couple for allegedly producing homemade alcohol, as well as the suspected distributor of the tainted liquor.
Deaths from bootleg alcohol were also reported in North Khorasan, Alborz, and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad Provinces.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, alcohol has been banned in Iran and punishable by floggings and cash fines.
Despite the strict alcohol ban, many Iranians drink foreign and homemade alcoholic beverages that are available on the black market.
In recent years, several cases of fatal alcohol poisoning have been reported.
Last month, four people, including a woman, died after drinking bootleg alcohol in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran.
ISNA quoted a judiciary official as saying that nearly 40 people were hospitalized after the poisonings, which occurred on September 11.
Iranian officials estimate that up to 80 million liters of alcohol worth $730 million are smuggled into the country every year.
With the recent collapse in the value of the national currency, the rial, Iranians may be turning to homemade alcohol over more expensive foreign imports, according to the BBC.
Since 2014, Iran has opened treatment centers for alcoholics.
With reporting by reporting by ILNA and the BBC
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