Surabaya. Three more people in East Java have died after drinking bootleg alcohol bringing the total death toll to 19 in the new year, police said on Wednesday.
Gayungan Police chief Comr. Herlina said the victims were seen drinking together on Sunday along with three other friends.
“All six of them were drinking the alcohol at Jambangan cemetery from Sunday evening to Monday morning. The local residents recognized the men as heavy drinkers,” Herlina said.
On Tuesday, the victims collapsed and were rushed to Surabaya Islam Hospital before being referred to Soetomo Hospital in Surabaya.
Three of them died while the rest are still undergoing intensive treatment.
Herlina said the police were unable to question the victims because they were still very weak.
Following the deaths, East Java police have established a special task force to investigate the case.
Police spokesman Comr. Bambang Tjahjo Bawono said the team has been ordered to investigate the distribution of the homemade alcohol, known locally as “ cukrik .”
Preliminary findings revealed that the alcohol was distributed from Solo, Central Java.
Previously 16 people had died and 10 others were in critical condition after drinking cukrik during the New Year’s Eve celebration.
Many victims, he said, had been sick for days before they were rushed to hospitals in the area because the families did not suspect they were ill.
Based on the victims’ testimony, police arrested the persons who allegedly produced the bootleg alcohol. The are Roni and his wife Nuraini, residents of Kedungsari, Magersari.
Police also seized dozens of jerricans containing the tainted mixture.
In September last year, 12 people in East Java died of methanol poisoning.
Sawahan Police chief Comr. Manang said his office had received a report that the 12 people in Surabaya and Gresik had bought the bootleg alcohol.
Police then raided a house on Jl. Kutai, Surabaya, and confiscated four boxes as well as one jerrican containing alcohol.
Police also arrested a man named Budi, who produced the alcohol.
Anecdotal evidence suggests deaths from adulterated alcohol have risen in recent years — although there is very little data available to support these claims. The Jakarta Globe