20 January 2019
The victims drank the “concentrated bath oil” believing it contained ethanol, the form of alcohol in drinks. Photo: Siberian Times
The victims drank the “concentrated bath oil” believing it contained ethanol, the form of alcohol in drinks. Photo: Siberian Times

48 die after drinking bath lotion with antifreeze in Siberia

A state of emergency has been declared in the Siberian city of Irkutsk after at least 48 people died and dozens more were hospitalized after drinking bath oil with antifreeze.

Authorities in Irkutsk said almost 60 people were hospitalized over the weekend after trying the bath oil, which was sold as “Boyaryshnika”, or hawthorne extract, the Telegraph reports.

“In total, 57 people were harmed, of which 48 have died,” Stanislav Zubovsky, a local prosecutor, told Russian news agencies on Monday afternoon.

The nine surviving victims were in critical condition, Zubovsky said.

Dmitry Berdnikov, the mayor of the Siberian city, declared a state of emergency on Monday and banned the sale of all medical and household products containing alcohol.

He also ordered an emergency information campaign to warn residents about the dangers of drinking such products.

Russia has been rocked by a number of poisoning incidents involving fake vodka and other alcoholic drinks in recent years, but this appears to be the first such case involving cosmetics.

The victims drank the “concentrated bath oil”, which could be bought over the counter for 40 rubles (65 US cents) a bottle, believing it contained ethanol, the form of alcohol in drinks, the newspaper said.

New website RT said a sticker on the bath lotion said it contains 93 percent ethyl alcohol, hawthorn extract, lemon oil, diethyl phthalate and glycerol.

A chemical test of the lotion, however, showed that it contains methyl alcohol and antifreeze, which if ingested can cause blindness, coma and death.

A daughter of one of the victims told Tass news agency that her father had drunk the liquid several times in the past without experiencing any harmful effect.

The bottles reportedly carried a warning that they were not for human consumption.

Irkutsk police said they seized 2000 bottles of the substance and arrested seven people after tracing the source of the fake cosmetics to a makeshift factory on the city’s outskirts.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called for a crackdown on the production and distribution of illegal alcohol in all forms.

According to the Russian State Statistics Agency, 6,902 people have died of alcohol poisoning since the start of the year, less than the 7,964 deaths recorded for the same period last year.

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