Tainted Liquor Kills 102 in Eastern India

Posted December 15th, 2011 at 2:05 am (UTC-5)
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Indian officials said Thursday that 102 people have died after drinking a batch of homemade liquor laced with poison in the country's northeast.

The residents fell ill after buying cheap alcohol from bootleggers late Tuesday in the impoverished South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal state.

In addition to the fatalities, at least 135 people were sickened, with many complaining of stomach aches and vomiting. Many of those who fell ill were day laborers or other poor workers.

A reporter in Kolkata told VOA that officials rushed 70 of the seriously ill victims to hospitals in the state capital.

Authorities say they expect the number casualties to continue to rise.

On Wednesday, 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.