Family call for action after cocktail kills

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2013
Aana Prentice
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ

WARNING NEEDED: Aana Prentice.

DANGEROUS BREW: Liam Davies suffered methanol poisoning after drinking at a bar on the island of Lombok on New Year's Eve.
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DANGEROUS BREW: Liam Davies suffered methanol poisoning after drinking at a bar on the island of Lombok on New Year's Eve.

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The family of a New Zealand teen who died from methanol poisoning in Indonesia have called for extra government warnings for travellers heading to the holiday destination.

Liam Davies suffered methanol poisoning after drinking at a bar on the island of Lombok, near Bali, on New Year's Eve.

The 19-year-old was rushed to an Indonesian hospital on New Year's Day and was later taken to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, where he had been on life support in a critical condition.

Liam was the son of Tim and Lhani Davies (nee Prentice) from Taranaki, who live in Perth.

The couple and his two teenaged brothers were at his bedside when he died yesterday.

Methanol is a toxic chemical sometimes added to cheap drinks to make them more alcoholic. The effects of methanol poisoning can range from vomiting, headaches and gastric pain, to comas, liver failure and, in extreme cases, death.

Blindness is also common - it can last a few hours or lead to permanent damage.

Poisoning incidents have risen since an Indonesian Government crackdown on overseas alcohol made taxes on foreign drinks skyrocket.

Liam's aunt, Aana Prentice of Inglewood, said more needed to be done to warn tourists of the dangers of drinking locally brewed drinks in Indonesia.

"The only way to be safe is to make sure you drink from a sealed bottle and don't drink the local cocktails," Mrs Prentice said.

She said all tourists heading to Indonesia needed to be made aware of the risks and was surprised the Australian and New Zealand governments were not doing more.

"It needs to be that you can't get into Bali without seeing a sign or being given information about the dangers of these drinks.

"If governments are the way to get that into force then yeah, they should be advising tourists."

Mrs Prentice said Liam was a talented sportsman who was finishing his roofing apprenticeship and had a bright future.

He had moved to Western Australia about 14 years ago with his parents.

"He wanted to travel the world," she said.

"The spirit of Taranaki never left Liam's heart. Even though in Perth he has everything, the best parents ever, two younger brothers, great friends, he was always going to be the one to come home to Taranaki."

In 2008 Liam represented Australia at the under-19 World Lacrosse Championships.

Western Australian doctors have urged the Federal Government and Australian Federal Police to intervene and insist Indonesian authorities do more to outlaw lacing drinks with methanol.

In September 2011, 29-year-old Perth-based rugby player Michael Denton, a New Zealander, died in Bali after consuming arak, a colourless, sugarless beverage with a 20 to 50 per cent alcohol content which is distilled from rice or palm sap.

It is usually produced legally and safely, but unlicensed distillers also produce it, and a byproduct of incorrect distillation is methanol.

At Denton's inquest in Dunedin, coroner David Crerar said foreign ministries should warn citizens about the dangers of consuming the local concoction, which also blinded an 18-year-old Australian school leaver in Bali last month.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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