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Bad Booze Downs Ugandans

FILE: Representative image of bottles of alcohol. Taken 6.16.2016
FILE: Representative image of bottles of alcohol. Taken 6.16.2016

At least 17 people have died and several others were taken to hospital after consuming toxic liquor from a roadside kiosk in northern Uganda, a senior official said Friday.

The victims in the city of Arua had consumed a local gin named City 5 that contained methanol -- a poisonous form of alcohol sometimes used as an antifreeze -- the head of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards told AFP.

"The sample picked by the Uganda Police Force from the kiosk where the products were being sold was found to have been adulterated with excessive levels of methanol", David Livingstone Ebiru said.

"It is likely the perpetrators deliberately and illegally used methanol as a cheaper alternative to increase the potency of the City 5 gin, instead of ethanol which is commonly used in making alcoholic beverages."

Police have arrested four suspects including the gin manufacturer and the kiosk owner and shut down the liquor production facility, he said.

Many people die every year in Uganda after consuming toxic liquor made in backstreet distilleries, but the deaths usually go unreported.

In June 2017, 11 people died in the township of Nansana after consuming toxic gin.