Made alcohol: Indonesian police vow crackdown

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As many as 82 of the deaths took place in West Java and Jakarta, while the other cases were in South Kalimantan and other regions, Deputy National Police Chief Muhammad Syafruddin said.

Bootleg alcohol has killed more than 100 people in Indonesia this month, mainly in West Java and the capital Jakarta, according to news reports.

Indonesian TV has broadcast images of distraught relatives in several cities and lines of gurneys bearing dead bodies in hospital hallways as the death toll relentlessly climbed since late last week.

Indonesian police remove bottles of illegal alcohol from a house in Cicalengka district in West Java province on April 8, 2018.

The World Health Organization estimated in 2014 that five times as much illicit alcohol is being consumed in Indonesia compared to legitimate, recorded supplies, it says, calling for a reduction in taxes and tariffs, public awareness campaigns and - arguably counterintuitively - increasingly strict licensing requirements for authorised sellers.

In addition, high excise taxes imposed on alcoholic drinks and sales being limited to certain shops and entertainment centres has only made it hard for the people to obtain the legitimate product.

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"The current incidence of rampant bootleg alcohol is because there is a need to drink but the product is not available in the legal market", he said.

Laboratory tests revealed the deadly brew contained pure alcohol mixed with herbal beverages and high-caffeine energy drinks.

Syafruddin said More than 80 others were hospitalised. "Ginseng by itself is too hard", said the 28-year-old.

Deaths due to consuming bootleg alcohol is quite common since 2015 after Indonesia's Ministry of Trade banned the sale of alcohol in retail stores, convenience stores and kiosks in 2015.

But the latest cluster of fatalities is extreme, leading to speculation that a single large distributor was responsible.

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