KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 – Four men have died in Johor after consuming cheap liquor believed to contain methanol, police said today after six also perished in Penang from methanol poisoning.
The Malay Mail reported that the Johor victims comprised a Malaysian and three India, Nepal, and Pakistan nationals. A Malaysian man in his 30s also turned blind after allegedly consuming methanol-tainted liquor.
“Preliminary investigations found that the victims had drunk the ‘Miludeer’ brand of liquor that was purchased locally and is suspected to contain toxic methanol,” Johor police chief Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd was quoted saying.
Police have arrested nine suspects in Johor, while investigators seized several bottles and cans of alcoholic drinks that were believed to have been smuggled into the country.
Methanol is the simplest form of alcohol, much more toxic than ethanol, produced in tiny amounts during fermentation. Spirits manufacturers ensure that methanol is separated from ethanol, but such separation is more difficult for unsophisticated home brew systems, according to ABC.
Penang police said yesterday that six men have died in the state in the past two months from methanol poisoning, comprising two Malaysians, three Myanmar nationals, and an Indian national.
United Breweries Limited operations director Esikkandar Basha denied that Kingfisher beer was responsible for the Johor deaths and blinding incident.
The Indian beer company pointed out that after the spate of methanol poisoning cases last September that killed 33 people in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, and Perak, the Health Ministry analysed samples of its Kingfisher beer and cleared the product.
According to a letter by the Ministry dated November 2, 2018, that United Breweries Limited shared with the press, health officials found the presence of methanol in Kingfisher beer, but it did not exceed the levels set by the World Health Organization.
“Today, once again Kingfisher beer is connected to the liquor poisoning incidents in Johor and pictures of my company’s beer cans have been spread on social media.
“I want to stress that Kingfisher beer is not the cause of death in these incidents,” Basha said in a statement.