December 24, 2019 - 16:12 AMT
Toxic coconut wine kills at least 11 people in the Philippines

At least 11 people have died and hundreds more are being treated for suspected methanol poisoning after drinking locally made coconut wine during Christmas celebrations in the Philippines, CNN reports citing the state-run Philippine News Agency.

Local media reports said 300 people were hospitalized in Laguna and Quezon provinces of Luzon, the country's main island, with signs of poisoning such as stomach ache, dizziness, and vomiting after drinking the generic brand coconut wine.

A total of 265 people were hospitalized in the town of Rizal, Laguna the Department of Health said in a news release on Tuesday.

The coconut wine, known locally as lambanog, is a potent palm liquor distilled from coconut sap with an alcohol content of 40% to 45% by volume. It is a popular drink during the festive season, which is widely celebrated in the Philippines.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration said the lambanog tested positive for high levels of methanol, a type of alcohol that is toxic to the body, in some cases leading to blindness and death.

"Lambanog poisoning is caused by residual methanol, which in high levels becomes highly toxic for humans. Methanol is a naturally occurring substance present during the distilling process, that should be separated and removed thereafter," Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said in the news release.