Seven people died this week and 46 others were poisoned after drinking methyl, or wood, alcohol sold illegally in a Havana neighborhood, state-run television said Wednesday.

An official announcement read on the news said that the first cases showed up at a local clinic on Monday but "despite the rapid measures taken by medical personnel and the urgent transfer to different hospital centers" seven patients died.

The dead were identified as six men and a woman between the ages of 37 and 58.

Eight of the 41 people who remain hospitalized are in serious condition.

All of those affected are from the Havana municipality of La Lisa, the report said.

"For the investigation of this deed a multidisciplinary team comprised of experts from the Interior Ministry and the Public Health Ministry was formed, and it has had the support of the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba and the governments of the municipality and the province," the report added.

The preliminary investigation of the matter has found that the methyl alcohol, generally used as a reagent in laboratories and research centers, was stolen from a government warehouse by two workers.

Later the substance was sold illegally by a woman living in the same neighborhood as the people who were poisoned.

"From its characteristics it is difficult to differentiate it from ethyl alcohol, which can result in the occurrence of regrettable accidents when some citizens, out of eagerness for profit, irresponsibility and negligence contribute to its consumption," the statement said. EFE