Toxic bootleg liquor death toll rises to over 100 in India

Blanche Robertson
February 11, 2019

Many of those who died in Haridwar in Uttarkhand state and two districts in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh complained of stomach pains and respiratory problems, relatives and officials said.

In the adjoining Haridwar district, the death toll had risen to 28 from 12 on Friday, Indian broadcaster NDTV reported.

Health officials in India are now having a tough time attending to patients after no less than 72 victims died consuming contaminated liquor.

Meanwhile, as many as 46 people lost their lives in Saharanpur and 10 in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh after consuming illicit liquor. "Whoever is responsible will not be spared", said Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, according to a media report. "We have detained many people and guilty would be dealt as per the law of land". Officials said the liquor was first consumed in neighboring Uttarakhand where villagers from Saharanpur attended a funeral, and was then smuggled back to Saharanpur district by a villager who then sold it to others. Police officials said viscera examination on more bodies was yet to be conducted to find out if these too were alcohol-related deaths. They seized hundreds of litres of tainted liquor in raids.

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"The entire matter is being investigated and guilty would not be spared", an excise department official said.

But the current death toll is believed to be the deadliest outbreak since a similar case killed 172 in West Bengal in 2011.

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 antifreeze, to their product to increase its strength.

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