Death toll from Russian alcohol bootlegging operation rises to 34

Russian authorities say 34 people have died from alcohol poisoning connected to a mass bootlegging operation near the Kazakhstan border.

The Interior Ministry said a criminal investigation was underway and more than 2000 containers had been seized from warehouses in the Orenburg region, about 1500 kilometres south-east of Moscow.

“There are 67 known victims of alcohol poisoning in the region, 34 of whom have died,” the Interfax news agency quoted Orenburg’s local government as saying yesterday.

Members of the Russian Investigative Committee investigate a criminal case of deaths of people from alcohol poisoning in Orenburg, Russia. (Investigative Committee of Russia)

Most of the containers seized had the toxic substance methanol inside them, Reuters reports.

On Saturday, the ministry said 54 cases of alcohol poisoning had been reported, about half of which were fatal.

Investigators have arrested 10 people believed to be involved in the operation.

Local media say 24 people are still being treated in hospital, with seven in a serious condition and four on ventilators.

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