Ecuador Declares Alert after Tainted Alcohol Kills 23
Ecuador was under a state of emergency Monday after 23 deaths from tainted alcohol, mostly from one festival at a seaside community.
The state of emergency was in effect for two months from Sunday and all alcohol sales were banned for three days as authorities move to seize illegal homemade moonshine, according to Security Minister Homero Arellano.
A curfew was in effect in Los Rios province, where most of the deaths occurred.
One person was arrested in the town of Ricaurte, where 21 people died, officials said without releasing details.
Two other deaths from similar causes were reported in the central part of the country, according to health officials, which issued new warnings about consuming homemade liquor.
Officials also raided the home of one person where containers or alcohol for industrial use were found.
According to the official, the first deaths occurred on Thursday, several days after people began drinking the tainted alcohol, and increased rapidly over the weekend.
“People died from cardiac arrest or were moved to Guayaquil,” said Marjorie Vega, the health minister in the Los Rios.
She added that some others ended up blind or or suffered kidney damage, and that more victims are being found.
Vega said that the number of new cases has diminished thanks to information campaigns on the streets of the town and through the media.
“We prevented a few cases,” she said but added that “there are many more than the 103 patients” who have been treated.