Methanol Found in Lethal Drink
Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. The beverage that killed an Australian teenager in the popular holiday island of Gili Trawangan contained methanol, food and drug regulators in West Nusa Tenggara have confirmed.
Sri Utami Ekaningtiyas, the head of the provincial office of the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM), said Tuesday that tests on the vodka drink consumed by Liam Davies, 19, during a New Year’s Eve party confirm it had been adulterated with the toxic chemical.
She also said two of the vodka bottles seized from Rudi’s Bar, the establishment where Davies was last known to have drank, were from well-known producers but contained methanol and appeared to have been tampered with.
Davies died, Jan. 6, after falling severely ill on New Year’s Day from drinking at the bar. A bartender at Rudi’s claimed none of the drinks they sold were laced and suggested that Davies may have drunk a methanol-laced beverage at another bar before coming to Rudy’s.
However, the adulteration of brand-name liquor with methanol is reportedly a common practice in Gili Trawangan bars.
Sri said the BPOM’s findings should prompt the police to crack down on the practice and ensure that liquor distributors were not providing bars with bottles that had been tampered with.
Separately, the police said they already had a program in place to crack down on the distribution of unregistered liquor and moonshine. However, this does not include testing registered liquor for methanol adulteration or tampering.
Ismail, the head of the provincial health office, said in many cases it were the tourists themselves who mixed their drinks with locally brewed moonshine.
Police said they were still investigating Davies’ death and had questioned several witnesses. But they have not named any suspects to date.
The bar where the tainted alcohol was sold continues to operate as normal.
Cases of tourists falling severely ill or dying from drinking adulterated alcohol or moonshine in Lombok and Bali have cast a light on the problem but the practice persists in the popular holiday destinations.
In December, an 18-year-old Australian was left blind after drinking a home-brewed cocktail in Bali.
In September 2011, a 25-year-old Australian woman suffered brain damage and kidney failure after drinking the popular Jungle Juice cocktail, made using local rice wine, at a Lombok bar.
Just days later, a 29-year-old Australian man died from drinking arak , a locally made rice liquor, in Bali.