Scores of Mexicans are dying from drinking adulterated liquor, a consequence of the shortage of mainstream alcoholic beverages during the coronavirus pandemic, authorities say.
The first of at least 138 deaths in recent weeks occurred at the end of April in the western state of Jalisco, a month after the government declared a health emergency over the spread of COVID-19.
Much of Mexico has run out of beer after factories were shut down along with other non-essential firms.
Beer stocks were depleted within a month, and in some areas the prices of what was left doubled, according to industry sources.
Many of the 53 deaths in central Puebla province have been linked to a wake where people drank moonshine containing methanol that in non-lethal doses can cause blindness and liver damage.
Twenty-three people died in the hours following the gathering in the town of Chiconcuautla, according to authorities.
The town’s mayor said the popular “refino” drink, made from sugarcane, had been adulterated.
German Hernandez said his father died after being poisoned by a drink known locally as “tejon” — a blend of brandy with tejocote fruit (a type of hawthorn), in the Puebla town of Cacaloxuchitl.
“They sell it in the stores, and you can buy it and take it out. My father began trembling and feeling weak. He told us he felt bad, and we took him to the hospital,” Hernandez told AFP.
“This has never happened before.”
Deaths have also been recorded in the central state of Morelos, and Yucatan and Veracruz in the east.