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Bootlegged alcohol kills at least 14 in Czech Republic

Bootlegged alcohol is responsible for at least 14 deaths and has hospitalized at least 20 others.

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Two men drink alcohol from bottles on a street in Prague on September 12, 2012. At least 14 people have died and more than 20 have been hospitalised in the Czech Republic after drinking spirits apparently tainted with methanol, Czech officials said. 'The last figure I've heard was 14, but the numbers... must be taken with caution as it takes two or three days to confirm the cause of death by autopsy,' Health Minister Leos Heger told reporters. (Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 14 people have died from drinking bootlegged alcohol in the Czech Republic, and at least 20 more have been hospitalized. 

Some sources are reporting 16 deaths, including BBC News and the Guardian

On Wednesday, the Czech government banned "sales of spirits with alcohol content over 30 percent at stands and mobile shops with immediate effect" in an attempt to stop the poisonings from affecting more citizens, Radio Netherlands reported.

The Czech Republic's health ministry has also conducted 410 checks in bars and restaurants across the country, according to BBC News. 

"It's the first step and if the situation worsens, we would have to tighten it and to basically impose prohibition on all spirits... even in brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants," said Health Minister Leos Heger. 

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In the Moravian-Silesian region east of Prague, where the first deaths occurred over the weekend, a 36-year old man was taken into custody by police in connection to the distribution of the bootlegged liquor, Reuters reported.  

Police also detained another suspect in the neighboring region of Zlin. 

"Everything seems to suggest there's a single source, but I cannot rule out that there are more," deputy police president Vaclav Kucera told Czech TV, BBC News reported. "There's also no evidence the products come from a known producer." 

Czech experts have called the widespread alcohol poisoning the worst the country has experienced in three decades, according to Radio Netherlands.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/czech-republic/120912/bootlegged-alcohol-kills-at-least-14-czech-republ