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World News

  • #Russia bath lotion poisoning: Number of dead rises to 58

    The number of people in Russia who have died as a result of drinking bath oil has risen from 49 to at least 58, local media has reported.

    Most of the 37 other people who became ill are still being treated, with some in a serious condition.

    The highly toxic hawthorn-scented liquid was consumed as if it were safe alcohol, according to Russia's Investigative Committee.

    But it contained poisonous methanol, which can also cause blindness.

    The Siberian Times said the mass poisoning in Irkutsk "is now the worst such case in modern Russian history".

    Health minister Oleg Yaroshenko said that almost half of those still being treated are not expected to live and were in a very serious condition.

    "They came to [the] doctors too late.... Only a miracle can save them," he was quoted by The Siberian Times as saying.

    The paper said that a doctor and a kindergarten teacher are among the victims and that many of those who died were discovered in their in homes because they did not have sufficient time to call an ambulance.

    Most of the victims are reported to be aged between 35 and 50.

    One 33-year-old survivor said that he only drank a small amount of the lotion but still woke up blind the following morning.

    Household products are seen by some as a cheap alternative to alcohol across the former Soviet Union.

    Bottles with the lotion normally carry warnings stating they are not to be consumed, but correspondents say that the labels in this case said that the product contained ethyl alcohol rather than deadly methanol.

    Analysts say up to 12 million Russians drink cheap surrogate alcohol, including perfume, after shave, anti-freeze and window cleaner. Two years of Western economic sanctions have made the situation worse.

    Police earlier uncovered an illicit workshop where the lotion was being made, and arrested its owners.


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  • Islamic State 'has lost 50,000 fighters' over two years

    At least 50,000 militants from so-called Islamic State have been killed since the US-led coalition started fighting in Iraq and Syria two years ago, a US military official has said.

    The senior official described the figure as a "conservative estimate".

    The figure showed air power and a small number of US figures supporting local forces were having an impact, the official said.

    The US has, however, repeatedly warned that IS can replace fighters rapidly.

    The official on Thursday said that coalition air strikes could be intensified in places like Mosul, which Iraqi troops are now battling to recapture, but that had to be offset against the risk of civilian casualties.

    The campaign was beginning to damage IS, the official said.

    "I am not into morbid counts but that kind of volume matters, that kind of impact on the enemy."

    The US has often been reluctant to provide figures on enemy casualties.

    But in August, Lt Gen Sean MacFarland was quoted by the AP news agency as saying that about 45,000 enemy combatants had been killed.

    In February, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said IS had about 25,000fighters operating in Syria and Iraq, citing a US intelligence estimate.

    IS has lost a lot of ground since it reached the high tide of its expansion in 2014, and is now under fire from Russian, Turkish, Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish forces, as well as US and British air power.

    It is now entrenched in Mosul and Raqqa and the Sunni Arab tribal heartland of the Euphrates river valley, which stretches from eastern Syria to western Iraq.


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