55 people have been killed in Irkutsk region, Russia, with almost 26 others still lying in hospital bed without a chance of survival after they drank bath lotion or bath oil, masquerading as a safe alcoholic drink called Hawthorn.
Russian authority describe Hawthorn intake as the worst such case in modern Russian history.
Some 7 people have been detained in connection with the poisoning. In addition to the dodgy bath lotion, black marketeers behind the poisonous alcohol were producing several brands of vodka.
People aged 25 to 62 were stuck down by the poisoning. Almost half are women. The victims included a doctor and a kindergarten teacher, while 24 bodies were found in homes – people who had no time to call an ambulance.
Survivor Alexei, 33, said: ‘I met with my old friends, and we decided to drink a bit. My mates bought vodka, I do not remember the label. The taste seemed to me strange, bitter. I drank only one shot and then went home.
‘We had a supper, then I played with my child and went to sleep. In the morning I was blind. I could not even see what is in my cell-phone. I wanted to get up, but my legs did not obey. I’m a doctor by education, so I quickly understood that I had been poisoned.
‘I called to ambulance, and they brought me to hospital. Here I found out what is going on in the city. Hope these bastards will be found!’
Vladimir Putin has ordered a crackdown on counterfeit alcohol to stop people ‘dying like flies’, with toll at 64, and likely to rise higher.