More than 50 people die in Indonesia after drinking bootleg liquor

Relatives of man who died after consuming tainted homemade alcohol cry outside of a hospital in Cicalengka, Bandung Regency, West Java, Indonesia April 9, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Raisan Al Farisi/ via REUTERS

Indonesian authorities said on Tuesday that over 50 people have died and many have been hospitalised after consuming homemade alcohol tainted with various ingredients including mosquito repellent last week.

At least 12 men have been detained by the police in the capital, Jakarta, and a neighbouring province on suspicion of making and selling the liquor.

The police said that it was not clear if the victims had been poisoned by the formation of deadly methanol in the drink, or by an ingredient, one of which was known to be insect repellent.

"It was a blend of components not fit for consumption. We are still testing to determine the contents," Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko, a police spokesman, told Reuters.

"Authorities had raided streetside vendors to seize and destroy thousands of bottles of the moonshine," he added.

Several pictures that were broadcast by the media showed grieving families waiting to claim the bodies of loved ones at hospital morgues in several cities.

Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, imposes high rates of tax on alcohol that sometimes leads to people turning to cheap home brews. Reports said that deaths from such consumption are quite frequent.

However, the latest toll among the highest in recent years. In 2016, media reported that 36 people died after drinking locally made liquor.