Tainted Vodka Kills 11 Celebrating New Year in Mongolia

At least 11 people died and another 21 were hospitalized for drinking tainted vodka during New Year's Eve celebrations in Mongolia's capital, a government official said Tuesday.

An emergency has also been announced for Baganuur district of Ulan Bator where the deaths happened, city governor's office announced.

That means all shops were closed and further celebrations were banned, according to Ganbold Khurlee of the governor's office. New Year's Day is also a holiday in Mongolia — a largely poor, landlocked country sandwiched between China and Russia.

He said tests showed that the vodka was made with methanol spirits normally used for nonfood purposes like cleaning.

"Relevant government agencies have determined that various vodkas produced by this company contained up to 30 percent methanol spirits," he said.

New Year's celebrations where vodka is widely consumed is a holdover from the days when Mongolia was a satellite state of the Soviet Union.