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Nine die in wine poison case, 12 arrested
By Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-17 08:05

Nine people are dead from drinking liquor blended with industrial alcohol in Guangzhou, the capital of South China's Guangdong Province.

Another 33 are in the Guangzhou No 12 People's Hospital, including four in critical condition as of press time yesterday. Six others remain in a severely sickened state.

All fell ill after drinking liquor bought from small-time vendors, according to Guangzhou municipal government officials.

"Tests showed methanol in the patients' blood," said Jiang Chaoqiang, president of the Guangzhou Municipal No 12 People's Hospital.

He said methanol poisoning can be fatal, causing serious damage to the liver and kidneys, and can lead to blindness and other maladies.

The first two alcohol deaths were reported on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, two other poisoning deaths were reported in the city's Baiyun District.

Local police have detained a dozen people, all suspected of blending industrial alcohol with rice liquor and selling the tainted drink to local markets and stalls. Another two suspects are still at large.

Some 1,200 kilograms of the toxic liquor have been discovered in a sweep of Baiyun District in the past week.

On Saturday alone, some 444 kilograms of the wine were found, produced by three fake liquor labels.

Another batch about 150 kilograms was transported to Tianhe District. Some was withheld from the market while some has already been sold, municipal officials said.

Other such wine makers have been found in Zengcheng, Panyu in the city of Guangzhou and in Boluo in the city of Huizhou, by inspectors sent by the Guangzhou Municipal Quality Inspection and Supervision Bureau.

An all-around quality inspection campaign has been launched.

The hospital said a majority of the patients are immigrant workers from neighbouring Hunan and Jiangxi provinces.

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