Berliner Tageblatt - Death toll from Indian toxic alcohol rises to 56: police

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Death toll from Indian toxic alcohol rises to 56: police
Death toll from Indian toxic alcohol rises to 56: police / Photo: © AFP

Death toll from Indian toxic alcohol rises to 56: police

The death toll from a batch of toxic illegal alcohol in India had risen to 56, police said Monday, with 117 people in hospital recovering from the deadly drink.

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Last week, hundreds of people in Kallakurichi district in the southern state of Tamil Nadu consumed a batch of locally made "arrack", which was laced with methanol.

Hundreds of people die every year in India from cheap alcohol made in backstreet distilleries, but this poisoning is one of the worst in recent years.

To increase its potency, the liquor is often spiked with methanol, which can cause blindness, liver damage and death.

Top district police official Rajat Chaturvedi told AFP that "56 people have died so far and around 117 people are currently under medical treatment".

Political rivals in the state have blamed each other for the deaths, and the site of the tragedy witnessed a protest by local opposition politicians Monday.

Tamil Nadu is not a dry state, but liquor traded on the black market comes at a lower price than alcohol sold legally.

Selling and consuming liquor is prohibited in several other parts of India, further driving the thriving black market for potent and sometimes lethal moonshine.

Last year, poisonous alcohol killed at least 27 people in one sitting in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, while in 2022, at least 42 people died in Gujarat.

Indian media reported that poor labourers in Kallakurichi district regularly bought the liquor in plastic bags costing 60 rupees ($0.70), which they would drink before work.

This batch, however, was devastating. Some people went blind, while others collapsed in the street and died before they could make it to hospital.

O.Lorenz--BTB