Dozens Dead in Russia After Drinking Toxic Bath Oil

Death toll in Irkutsk region is nearly 60, with more of the injured expected to die
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2016 8:15 AM CST
Dozens Dead in Russia After Drinking Toxic Bath Oil
A cheap buzz that can possibly kill you.   (YouTube/Reuters)

"They came to doctors too late. … Only a miracle can save them." Those were the words to the Siberian Times from the Irkutsk region's health minister regarding those sickened from ingesting a deadly bath oil, with dozens already dead from the mass poisoning—said to be the "worst such case in modern Russian history." The BBC reports at least 58 have died, per local media, and notes the death toll is expected to rise, as many of the more than three dozen poisoned are in serious condition. The concoction that caused the deaths was a black-market mixture promoted as a safe, hawthorn-scented alcoholic beverage, with a label that said it contained ethyl alcohol, which is OK to consume.

However, it actually was made with methanol, which Live Science notes is a harmful chemical used in antifreeze that (besides death) can also cause a slew of other medical problems, including blindness. A market worker tells Reuters she usually uses the oil to remove grease and remnants of old price tags still stuck on surfaces. The BBC—which notes millions of cash-strapped people in Russia often resort to drinking cheap "surrogate" booze, including perfume and window cleaner—says the owners of the shop where the bath oil was made have been arrested. (Beer wasn't officially considered alcohol in Russia until a few years ago.)

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