Four dead, 40 hospitalised in Tunisia alcohol poisoning

Four people have been killed and 40 hospitalised after consuming tainted alcohol in southern Tunisia, an official said.

An inquiry has been opened and the person who supplied the alcohol has been arrested, Fethi Baccouche, a spokesman for the Medenine court, told AFP.

An analysis of the alcohol is underway to determine what was behind the mass poisoning.

Of the 40 surviving victims, most left hospital but some were transferred to the capital Tunis for treatment, Baccouche said, without providing exact numbers.

Poisonings from incorrectly produced or adulterated alcohol are common in Tunisia and often fatal.

In 2021, Tunisian health authorities announced five deaths and the hospitalisation of 25 more in Kasserine in the country’s west after they drank contaminated alcohol.

And in May 2020, 39 people were poisoned, including six who died, after drinking methanol near the city of Kairouan.

The consumption of home-made alcohol is common in some working-class neighbourhoods of Tunis and remote regions of the country where poverty rates are high.

The alcohol, which is illegal, is often much cheaper than that sold in shops.