At least 27 people have died in four Iranian provinces after drinking bootleg alcohol, the national emergency services say.
Mojtaba Khaledi, spokesman for the state emergency services, said on September 30 that 302 people have been taken to hospitals across Iran in recent days after they consumed tainted alcohol, the semiofficial ILNA news agency reported.
Khaledi said the deaths were reported in Hormozgan, North Khorasan, Alborz, and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad provinces.
Reports said at least 176 people were still hospitalized.
Since the 1979 revolution, alcohol has been banned in Iran and punishable by floggings and cash fines.
Despite the strict alcohol ban, many Iranians drink foreign and homemade alcoholic beverages that are available on the black market.
In recent years, several cases of fatal alcohol poisoning have been reported. Since 2014, Iran has opened treatment centers for alcoholics.
In the latest wave of alcohol poisoning, the largest number of deaths was reported in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas in Hormozgan Province, where 16 people died, the semiofficial news agency ISNA reported on September 29.
Provincial medical school spokeswoman Fatemeh Norouzian was quoted as saying that eight people were in critical condition there.
The Bandar Abbas police chief, Esmail Mashayekh, said a married couple was arrested on suspicion of producing the tainted liquor and that the suspected distributor was also detained.
Earlier this month, four people, including a woman, died after drinking bootleg alcohol in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran.
ISNA quoted a judiciary official as saying that nearly 40 people were hospitalized after the poisonings, which occurred on September 11.
With reporting by ILNA, ISNA, dpa and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.
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