Ecuador bans alcohol after bootleg liquor deaths

Ecuador has imposed a three-day blanket ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol — after 21 people died from drinking bootleg liquor.

Initially a dry law was imposed in the coastal town of Urdaneta, in Los Rios province, where the deaths occurred, but authorities on Sunday decided to extend the ban nationwide after bootleg liquor was reported in other provinces.

An additional 103 people were treated for intoxication from the tainted alcohol in Los Rios, where the BBC reported that police confiscated 28 containers, some contaminated with methanol — a toxic substance sometimes used to illegally produce cheap liquor.

The Spanish news agency Efe reported that police had made one arrest.

Officials said the ban would give time for the country’s police and armed forces to seek out and confiscate bootleg alcohol.

Public Health Minister David Chiriboga called on those who had consumed alcohol to immediately seek help in the event of nausea or vomiting. He said other symptoms included abdominal pain, blurred vision or breathing difficulties.

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