The toxic substance methanol has been found in the blood of the 21 teenagers who were found dead more than three weeks ago in a club in the South African town of East London. Authorities in the Eastern Cape province have announced this after section on the bodies.
It is still being investigated whether the methanol level was so high that it could also lead to death, said the deputy chief executive of the provincial health service at a press conference. The studies are being conducted in a laboratory in Cape Town.
Methanol is a highly toxic form of alcohol that is used in industry as a pesticide, solvent or fuel, among other things. It is not used in the production of alcoholic beverages. It is not clear how the young people got the methanol.
In recent times, alcohol poisoning and carbon monoxide poisoning have already been ruled out as causes of death, even though the substances were found in the bodies of all victims.
The discovery of the bodies on 26 June caused a major shock in South Africa. A lot of bodies were on tables and benches. Others died on their way to or in hospitals. The young people celebrated the start of the summer vacation.
The owner of the catering business and several employees were arrested, including because of the sale of alcohol to minors. They have now been released, but they are still suspicious.