Health authorities in Cuba confirmed that the death toll caused by people drinking lab alcohol, that was illegally disguised as hard liquor, has climbed to ten.
"The mass poisoning by methyl alcohol... has claimed 10 lives," Efren Acosta, deputy director of Havana's provincial health department, was quoted as saying in a communist-run newspaper.
AdvertisementHe added that four other people remained in critical condition, out of at least 60 who have been hospitalized since the poisoning was first detected on Monday.
Authorities say the lab alcohol was stolen by two employees of a state-run pharmacy institute and then sold on the street as liquor.
Methyl alcohol, or methanol, has similar characteristics to ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, which is what gives alcoholic beverages their intoxicating effect.
Methanol is commonly used in scientific laboratories, but if ingested can cause blindness or death.
The average monthly income in Cuba is 20 dollars, and many people buy food and drink of unknown origin on the black market because it is cheaper.
Cuba, the last one-party communist state in the Western Hemisphere, has been under a US economic embargo for more than half a century.