India toxic alcohol deaths jump to 133: police

GUWAHATI (India), Feb 25 (NNN-AGENCIES) – At least 35 more workers have died in northeastern India after drinking toxic liquor, police said Sunday, taking the death toll from the latest mass alcohol poisoning beyond 130.

The deaths in Assam state came less than two weeks after tainted liquor
killed about 100 people in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and

In addition to the latest toll, at least 200 more people were still
hospitalised across Assam.

“The death toll has reached 133 in Golaghat and Jorhat districts from the
hooch tragedy,” Mukesh Agarwala, additional director general of state police, said.

“A total of ten people have been arrested. We have sent the samples of the
liquor… to a forensic laboratory. The report is awaited,” he added.

Police said people started falling sick after consuming a batch of
illegally produced liquor late Thursday.

The victims, who include many women, worked at local tea estates in the

Doctors said those rushed to hospital in a critical condition were
suffering from severe vomiting, extreme chest pain and breathlessness.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered an inquiry into the

Apart from the arrests, two excise department officials were suspended for
failing to take adequate precautions over the sale of the alcohol.

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma vowed those responsible for the tainted booze would be brought to justice.

Cheap, locally made liquor is common in parts of rural India and
bootleggers often add methanol — a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes
used as an antifreeze — to their product to increase its strength.

If ingested in large quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage
and death.

Hundreds of mainly poor people die each year in the South Asian country
from tainted liquor, which normally costs just a few US cents a bottle.

Of the estimated five billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in India,
around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International
Spirits and Wine Association of India.

Many Indian states have implemented or pushed for prohibition, which,
according to critics, further increases the unsupervised manufacture and sale of alcohol. — NNN-AGENCIES


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