Tainted Alcohol Kills More Than 50 in Eastern India

Posted December 14th, 2011 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Indian authorities say more than 50 people died after drinking tainted home-made liquor in a village in the country's northeast.

Officials said Wednesday the deaths were reported from the impoverished South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal state. They said residents bought the cheap alcohol late Tuesday and became ill within hours, complaining of stomach aches and vomiting. In addition to the fatalities, at least 135 people were sickened.

A reporter in Kolkata told VOA that officials rushed 70 of the seriously ill victims to hospitals in the state capital. Authorities fear the death toll could rise as more and more people are turning up with symptoms of liquor poisoning.

Villagers angered by the deaths ransacked local breweries suspected of selling the tainted liquor, while police arrested four people in connection with the case.

Illicit brewers in India often spike their alcohol with chemicals to increase its potency and sell the cheap beverage to slum-dwellers and farmers. Alcohol poisoning kills hundreds of people in the country every year.

In 2009, a toxic liquor incident killed at least 112 people in western India.