*Last month, June 26, remains a sad time for South Africa and the rest of the world, as 21 teens died after an immense celebration at a South African nightclub. Several government officials joined the police for a press conference to reveal the latest details about the case, reports the Washington Post.
Experts had previously detected methanol in the blood samples of the victims, however, they are further assessing to determine if the levels were lethal or nonlethal.
The teens, aged between 13 and 17, had previously been partying hard at Enyobeni Tavern, the coastal city of East London on June 26, before they passed on. According to the police, some of them (teens) were slumped over the furniture when the officers arrived.
Health officials initially linked their deaths to alcohol and carbon monoxide poisoning before Litha Matinawe, provincial deputy director for clinical service in Eastern Cape ruled out the factors, after testing. Further reports indicate that a stampede may also have caused some of the deaths.
One witness who spoke with the Post said people were heard in the tavern, yelling “I can’t breathe” and “I’m choking.” Others said people were being “suffocated” by a substance that “smelled like gas.”
Yonela Dekeda, the health department spokesman for the same region, said that more tests are being conducted to ascertain the cause of the deaths. He further explains that it is still too early to determine where the teens got the methanol – liquor or elsewhere.
According to the CDC, methanol can cause a range of health complications and is commonly used as an antifreeze, in fuels, pesticides, and pesticides. CDC further explains that most methanol poisonings occur due to methanol products or beverages contaminated with the substance. In the industrial sector, death can occur when they inhale high amounts of methanol vapor or absorb it via the skin.
One witness who spoke to the Post talked of some victims in the tavern saying they wouldn’t breathe and were choking as others were being suffocated by something that smelled like gas. The owner of the club, aged 52, was arrested after the incident and will be availed in court next month. He faces multiple charges including allowing alcohol access to minors. Two employees aged 33 and 34 were also arrested alongside him.
The teens were celebrating the end of high school exams, when the tragedy occurred, according to Blavity. Talking to CBS News, Bheki Cele, the Police Minister said that the teens died while dancing – they literally danced, fell, and died.