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Spirits with more than 20 percent alcohol banned in Czech Republic

Filip Singer / EPA

A vendor covers shelves filled with hard alocohol at a shop in Prague, Czech Republic, on Friday. The Czech government banned the sale of hard alcohol in the wake of a series of deaths linked to such drinks. Health Minister Leos Heger made the announcement in a television broadcast. The ban would apply for the foreseeable future to all liquor with an alcohol content of more than 20 per cent. The announcement comes after at least 19 deaths linked to people who drank vodka or rum drinks spiked with methanol, which can cause illness in small quantities and blindness or death in larger doses.

David W Cerny / Reuters

Workers puts tape to close an aisle with hard liquor in a supermarket in Prague on Friday. The Czech Health Ministry on Friday indefinitely banned the sale of drinks containing more than 20 percent alcohol after 19 people died from drinking bootleg spirits containing poisonous methanol, the CTK news agency reported.

David W Cerny / Reuters

A bartender covers bottles of hard liquor with towels in a bar in Prague .

Zdenek Nemec / AP

A policeman leads a man accused in the case of illegal alcohol to the court in Zlin, Czech Republic, 150 miles east of Prague on Friday. His arrest is in connection with the latest police discovery. Around 500 bottles and several barrels of illicit booze were found in a garage in the eastern city of Zlin on Thursday. Eighteen people have recently died after drinking liquor tainted with methanol (methyl alcohol) in the Czech Republic.

AP reports that the Czech Republic has banned the sale of spirits with more than 20 percent alcohol amidst methanol poisonings:

Dozens of people have been hospitalized, some in critical condition after drinking vodka and rum laced with methanol. The problem has appeared largely centered in northeastern Czech Republic.

Methanol is mainly used for industrial purposes, but unscrupulous criminal networks sometimes misuse it to illegally produce cheap liquor because it's cheap and impossible to distinguish from real drinking alcohol.

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