Dozens of people were reportedly hospitalized last week after drinking the tainted booze at a party in Alborz province, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the capital Tehran, the IRNA news agency reported.
Besides the fatalities, more than 140 partygoers were sickened, including four who were in critical condition, officials said.
Since 1979, when Iran banned the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages, methanol is often added to home-made brews as a cheaper alternative to ethanol, the alcohol that can be consumed. Drinking alcohol is punishable by a cash fine and lashes.
Iran’s 40 alcohol factories converted production to pharmaceutical needs and sanitizers.
Abbas Masjedi, the head of the country’s forensic medicine agency, said 644 people died from drinking tainted booze in 2022, up 30% from 2021, IRNA quoted him as saying.
The consumption of methanol causes delayed organ and brain damage. Symptoms include chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness and even coma.
From time to time, Iran reports similar incidents in which alcohol, usually provided by bootleggers, is consumed. One academic study found that methanol poisoning sickened 768 people in Iran between September and October 2018 alone, killing 76.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Iranian media reported hundreds of people were killed and sickened by ingesting methanol as fake remedies spread across social media claiming that drinking high-proof alcohol was a way to kill the virus.