MOSCOW — Local health officials in Russia’s Siberia say the number of people who have died from drinking a bath lotion that contained methanol has climbed to 72.

The health ministry in the Irkutsk region said on its website Thursday that another 33 were still in hospital while six others have been discharged.

Bottles with the lotion carried warnings that they weren’t for internal use, but labels said the product contained ethyl alcohol rather than methanol.

The sale of lotions and tinctures containing alcohol has risen in recent years as Russia has plunged into recession. Poisonings caused by cheap surrogate alcohol are a regular occurrence. euronews image

The sale of lotions and tinctures containing alcohol has risen in recent years as Russia has plunged into recession. Poisonings caused by cheap surrogate alcohol are a regular occurrence. euronews image

Local officials in Irkutsk went house-to-house in search for more victims and introduced a state of emergency Monday, while the Russian government called for tighter regulation of the alcohol market.

The sale of lotions and tinctures containing alcohol has risen in recent years as Russia has plunged into recession under the impact of Western sanctions and a slide in oil prices. Poisonings caused by cheap surrogate alcohol are a regular occurrence, but the Irkutsk case was unprecedented in its scale.

Russia’s top investigative agency opened a probe into the incident and arrested several people suspected of involvement in selling the lotion.

Officials found that the lotion contained deadly levels of methanol and antifreeze. Police have found an underground facility that made the counterfeit lotion, and seized 132 gallons of the substance at about 100 shops in Irkutsk, according to the Tass news agency.