ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Twelve people have died in Turkey and dozens have been hospitalised over the last three days after being poisoned by bootleg alcohol, media reported on Thursday.
Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu earlier in the day said six people had died. Television channels including NTV said the death toll rose later in the day, citing police.
Turkey's Islamist-rooted government levies some of the world's highest taxes on alcohol and tobacco, which analysts say has encouraged increased smuggling and illegal production.
"Citizens must take care to look for alcohol that meets standards with tax labels, rather than inexpensive products," Muezzinoglu said in comments broadcast live by CNN Turk.
Istanbul police have detained 15 people in connection with the production and sale of the illegaly produced raki, Turkey's popular aniseed-flavoured spirit, according to CNN Turk channel.
People began reporting symptoms of methyl alcohol poisoning, including blindness and severe abdominal pain, three days ago in Istanbul, it reported.
(Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; editing by Jermey Gaunt)