Teen killed by methanol-laced cocktail

BLANTON SMITH, LEIGHTON KEITH AND AAP
Last updated 19:16 06/01/2013
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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A former Taranaki teen who was poisoned after drinking a methanol-laced cocktail in Indonesia has died.

Liam Davies, 19, was rushed to an Indonesian hospital on New Year's Day suffering from methanol poisoning after drinking at a bar on the island of Lombok, near Bali, on New Year's Eve.

A decision was made to medivac Davies home where he was on life support in a critical condition at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth.

His family have warned people to be aware of the risks of consuming locally brewed drinks in Indonesia where you couldn't be certain of the quality.

The teenager, who lived in Taranaki until he was about six, is the son of Lhani (nee Prentice) and Tim Davies who moved to Perth 14 years ago.

A family spokeswoman said that although he had a lot going for him in Perth, "Taranaki never left Liam's heart".

"Even though in Perth he had everything, the best parents ever, two younger brothers, great friends he was always going to be the one to come back for good," she said.

A growing number of cases of methanol poisoning had previously led to  health authorities warning of the dangers of potential poisoning from drinking the local ‘‘arak’’ brew.

In September 2011, 29-year-old Perth-based rugby player Michael Denton, a New Zealander, died in Bali after consuming arak, which is described as 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 by-product 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.

The cases have also prompted the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to warn travellers to stick to bottled beers.

‘‘It’s difficult to know whether these drinks are being deliberately spiked or there’s just unprofessionalism in the distillation process and the methanol’s not being filtered out,’’ said AMA vice-president Michael Gannon.

‘‘I think the best thing for people to do is acknowledge that these type of things might happen in places like Bali and Lombok and to treat these places differently.’’

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- Taranaki Daily News

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