‘Lambanog’ death toll reaches 23
LUCENA CITY—More people have died to methanol poisoning from drinking “lambanog” (coconut wine) in an outbreak that has spread from Laguna to the adjacent province of Quezon.
Department of Health (DOH) Calabarzon Director Eduardo Janairo on Saturday said his office has confirmed 23 deaths since the incidence of mass poisoning broke out in Rizal, Laguna, on Dec. 22.
DOH records showed that the latest victim was from Quezon province and died on Dec. 26, amid campaigns from local governments to ask people to refrain from consuming unregulated liquor.
Quezon and Laguna were among the country’s top producers of coconut, the base ingredient of the local liquor.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found “toxic” concentrations of methanol, a poisonous chemical, mixed into lambanog, commonly bootlegged by unregulated makers for cheaper costs.
The police in the region has conducted mass inspections of lambanog stores and even confiscated those without FDA permits in Quezon.
According to the DOH, the fatalities were from Laguna (towns of Rizal, 7; and Nagcarlan, 2) and Quezon (towns of Candelaria, 8; Lucena City, 2; Pagbilao, 3; and Padre Burgos, 1). John Bobbie Roca of the DOH-Epidemiology Surveillance Unit said two people from Lucena City had died but the DOH was still validating if they had ingested lambanog.
The couple, Pedro and Rosi Duran, both 59, from Pagbilao, were found dead on Dec. 26. Their relatives told authorities the victims drank lambanog the night before.
Berlito Agudo, 63, also from Pagbilao, drank lambanog on Dec. 23 before experiencing headache, vomiting and loss of vision. Agudo died the next day.
Roca said while all fatalities had ingested lambanog, the actual causes of death differed based on their medical histories. “In some, [the methanol] may have triggered the blood pressure to shoot up,” he said in a phone interview.
The victims’ death certificates also showed various organ failure.
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