Back in 2016, now 23-year-old Miss Hannah Powell felt really bad after she had joined two of her girlfriends for a ‘bar crawl’ during which she was served ‘homemade’ vodka. Upon returning to the UK, she was checked into a hospital and the doctors told her that the drink she was given in one of the bars in Zante, Greece, had been mixed with deadly methanol.
In the end, doctors couldn’t help her. Her kidneys shut down as a response to the drink and she went blind.
Speaking on BBC’s Radio 1 Newsbeat, she recalls waking up in a Greek hotel room the day after. She couldn’t see anymore and thought the curtains were still shut.
“I suggested we open the curtains and my friends said they were already open but I didn’t realise what was going on. I just thought they were joking so I got up to turn the light on.
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“That’s when I started to panic because that’s when I realised it was on and I just couldn’t see anything.”
The girl from Middlesbrough was quickly taken to a local hospital on the small sunny holiday island and then immediately transferred to one on the mainland of Greece.
“I didn’t know why I couldn’t see. I thought there was something around my eyes, my head. I remember slyly answering the phone to my dad. He was telling me not to worry and he was on his way but it kept cutting out. I remember hiding my phone under my armpit thinking they were going to take it off me.”
Upon returning to the UK, the doctors over there informed her that she had been drinking vodka mixed with ethanol, which is deadly.
“Apparently mafia gangs make it in the woods and sell it to the bars for cheap – and the bars fill up their stock with it. So if you’re a customer you think you’re buying a legitimate Smirnoff vodka but it’s not.”
“They put it in Smirnoff bottles, real bottles, so you’ve no reason to think it’s not what it is. It just makes it go further for the bars. They don’t have to give you the normal quantity, they can give you much less because it’s much stronger.”
“But it’s just so dangerous.”