Bootleg alcohol laced with toxic methanol kills 39, leaves 27 ill in northern India
At least 39 people have died and another 27 have fallen sick from drinking cheap liquor containing toxic methanol in several villages in northern India.
- The deaths occurred at two seperate locations, one of which was a feast
- Initial tests suggests that the brew was laced with methanol
- Counterfeit alcohol, usually including chemicals, is a huge illegal industry in India
Senior police officer Ashok Kumar said 26 people died in two separate incidents in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 306 kilometres east of New Delhi, while 13 others died in the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand.
The majority of the deaths were reported from the village of Balpur in Uttarakhand.
Mr Kumar said victims consumed liquor during two customary functions on Thursday night, adding that the post-mortem and initial forensic reports suggested that the brew was laced with methanol.
Police have arrested eight suspected bootleggers while the provincial governments have suspended 35 officials, including 12 police.
Alok Kumar Pandey, district magistrate, said a feast had taken place where several of the deaths occurred.
“In that feast spurious alcohol was served, which was consumed there by the people who had travelled for the feast from Saharanpur.”
Senior police officer Dinesh Kumar said police were investigating whether any other people had consumed the deadly alcohol.
Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in India because the poor cannot afford licensed brands. Illicit liquor is cheap and often spiked with chemicals such as pesticides to increase potency.
Illicit liquor has also become a hugely profitable industry across India where bootleggers pay no taxes and sell enormous quantities of their product to the poor at a cheap rate.