Five children orphaned as bootleg vodka kills 26 people in Russian booze tragedy

Five young children have been left orphaned after their parents were among 26 people killed from bootleg vodka in Russia, with more deaths feared.

A further 22 people are in hospital after consuming the fake alcohol containing highly toxic methanol.

Local security man, Murat Berekeshov, 41, and his wife Aislu, 39, were celebrating assembling new furniture for their home by having a drink of vodka.

Unbeknown to them, the spirit was counterfeit, resulting in both of them being rushed to hospital and dying five hours apart.

They left behind five children aged one, two, four, eight and 12, in the city of Orsk, in the region of Orenburg.

Others killed after drinking from bottles from the lethal fake consignment were pensioner Aleksandr Sirotinin, 68, and Dmitry Karelin, 40, and Zhan Nurmakanov, 36, both unemployed.

Dmitry Granchenko, 42, was reported to be fighting for his life after drinking from the counterfeit alcohol.

Methanol concentrations in the body was “three to five times higher than a lethal dose," said a local official.

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A seller of the deadly drink Ildar Suyunshalinov said: “I bought the alcohol at the Orsk wholesale base. I did not know it was lethal.”

Police said it is a “miracle” that more of the bootleg booze was not sold causing additional fatalities.

Methanol is a toxic alcohol used industrially as a solvent, pesticide, or fuel source.

The ages of the dead were from 36 to 72, said reports.

Some of the dead were found in vehicles trying to reach hospitals after buying the alcohol which had labels suggesting it was a Siberian-label vodka.

A major criminal investigation is underway with two men aged 60 and 28, and a woman, 47, detained.

Later it was reported that two further men and one woman were held in connection with the poisoning.

More than 1,000 bottles have been confiscated, although the fake alcohol is visibly indistinguishable from normal alcohol.

“More than 3,000 empty plastic bottles and equipment for the production, storage, bottling and subsequent packaging of alcohol-containing products in large volumes were seized,” said a law enforcement report.

The region's governor Denis Pasler issued an urgent appeal to the local population to refrain from buying alcohol.

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