THE death toll for the binge drinking of Methanol Ethanol Mix in Kainantu’s Aiyura has risen to 11, up from six on Monday.
And the 150 who rushed to Kainantu Rural Hospital for treatment were advised to drink beer or vodka to counter the toxic effects of Ethanol.
Hospital acting chief medical administrator Dr Enename Susuke said the 11 deaths were recorded as of Tuesday afternoon.
The dead were from Obura-Wonenara’s Aiyura (three), Kainantu Hospital (five) and Goroka Hospital (three).
“After binge drinking over the weekend (Friday to Monday), scores of sick drinkers started crowding the hospital with end organ damage on Monday.
“The following day worsened with more than 100 people calling in sick.
“The sick were advised to drink beer (SP) to counteract the (toxic) effect (of Ethanol).
“After consulting the emergency department senior medical officer in Goroka Hospital, we have upgraded to vodka (with 40 per cent alcohol),” Susuke said.
“Hospital staff were overwhelmed but managed to handle the tragedy.
“Public awareness in town, surrounding areas and through the media is ongoing.
“A team from Goroka Hospital went to Kainantu to support the staff,” he added.
Susuke had advised the people to refrain from drinking any alcohol sold on the streets and villages, especially those that originate from Aiyura.
Eastern Highlands commander Chief Supt Michael Welly said the Ethanol people drank was siphoned from leaked drums at the Coffee Institute Corporation (CIC) centre in Aiyura on Friday.
He said from 80 drums of Ethanol in the CIC yard, five were emptied or partially emptied.
He said security guards on duty allegedly used knives to enlarge holes on the drums and collected the Ethanol into any container they could find and indulged in a drinking spree and also distributed it to villages in Aiyura and as far as Kainantu.
He said the five drums were confiscated and investigation was ongoing but the suppliers (allegedly the security guards) had gone into hiding following police enquiries.
“We are now looking for the suspects and I appeal to villagers to help us track them down.”
The National / PNG Health Watch
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