At least 19 people have died in Costa Rica after consuming alcohol contaminated with toxic levels of methanol, officials said.
The victims, who ranged from 32 to 72 in age, consumed the tainted alcohol in various cities across the country dating back to early last month, the country's Ministry of Health revealed over the weekend.
They each died from what appeared to be methanol poisoning. The fatalities occurred in San José, Cartago, Limón, Guanacaste and Heredia.
Government officials confiscated more than 30,000 bottles of alcohol suspected to be tainted, the ministry said in a statement on Friday, warning residents to avoid several brands that tested positive for contamination.
The confiscated brands include Guaro Montano, Guaro Gran Apache, Star Welsh, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka and Aguardiente Molotov, the statement said.
The amount of alcohol adulterated with methanol that a person can drink before suffering fatal consequences depends on the concentration as well as the person's biological makeup, according to the statement, which was translated from Spanish.
"It is important to emphasize that this information is preliminary since the investigations continue," the statement said. "The Ministry of Health continues to carry out operations throughout the national territory in order to reduce the exposure of consumers to adulterated products."