At least 19 people are dead and 24 others hospitalised. Some of them have been blinded, while others have been induced into comas in the hope that doctors can save them.
All had drunk cheap vodka and rum laced with methanol, a toxic substance used to stretch alcohol on the black market and guarantee high profits for manufacturers.
The Czech Republic announced emergency measures yesterday as the death toll from the methanol poisoning mounted, including two women aged 28 and 21. Kiosks and markets were banned from selling spirits with more than 30 per cent alcohol content and police raided outlets nationwide. At 410 sites, they found 70 cases of illegal alcohol.
Prime Minister Petr Necas called on all Czechs to refrain from drinking "any alcohol whose origin is uncertain", but authorities still feared the death toll will rise further.
Little is officially known about the culprits other than that they work in the country's depressed northeast, a former heartland of industry under communism. The Moravian-Silesian region near the border with Poland has unemployment about 50 per cent higher than the national average of 8.3 per cent.
Of the 16 confirmed dead in the Czech Republic, eight lived in the region; two others died in neighbouring Poland and one more in Slovakia.
Senior police official Vaclav Kucera said all the poisoning cases so far are likely connected and two suspects have been arrested, one in the eastern city of Zlin and another in the northeastern city of Havirov.