Bootleg alcohol kills at least 84 in India

Dozens of tea plantation workers critically ill after drinking tainted liquor

Zamira Rahim
Saturday 23 February 2019 11:12
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200 people remain in hospital after drinking the alcohol
200 people remain in hospital after drinking the alcohol

At least 84 people have died in northeast India after drinking liquor mixed with methyl alcohol, a chemical which attacks the central nervous system.

A further 200 people were taken to hospital in the country's Assam state after drinking the bootleg liquor on Thursday, forcing officials to call for extra medical staff.

"Every 10 minutes we are getting reports of casualties from different places. So far about 200 people are in hospital with many of them critical," Himanta Biswa Sharma, the state's health minister, said.

A total of 34 patients have died in the past 24 hours, according to ​Manab Gohain, a doctor at the Jorhat Medical College Hospital.

"Doctors from nearby districts and other medical colleges have been rushed in to deal with the crisis," Mr Sharma said.

The owner of a local brewing unit and eight others have been arrested.

Police officers are also pursuing other people believed to be connected to the alcohol racket as part of an ongoing investigation.

"We shall not spare anyone involved in manufacture and distribution of the tainted liquor," Mr Sharma said.

Illegally brewed alcohol is common in India, as poorer consumers cannot afford licenced brands sold from government-run shops.

Illicit liquor is cheap and often spiked to increase potency.

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Around 80 people died after drinking tainted liquor earlier this month in India's Uttar Pradesh state.

Additional reporting by agencies

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