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At least 34 die in India after drinking toxic alcohol – BBC News

By Cherylann Mollan, BBC News, Mumbai

The incident took place in Kallakuruchi district of Tamil Nadu state

At least 34 people have died after consuming toxic bootleg alcohol in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, officials said.

The incident took place in Kallakuruchi district where several residents fell ill after consuming the liquor on Tuesday night.

At least 80 people are being treated in hospitals for illnesses such as excessive diarrhoea and officials say the death toll could rise further.

Two people have been arrested so far and a wider investigation is underway.

Authorities have also suspended a senior police official and ten members of the state’s prohibition enforcement wing – which overseas the smuggling of illicit alcohol in the state – for negligence.

Dozens of people die in India each year after drinking bootleg alcohol from backstreet distilleries.

Bootleggers often add methanol – a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze – to their mixture to increase its strength.

If ingested in even small quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.

In Kallakuruchi, the accused allegedly sold the concoction in packets through a local vendor, according to The News Minute website.

Family members say they rushed victims to the hospital after they fell ill

Those who consumed the alcohol experienced symptoms like dizziness, headaches, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain and eye irritation and were taken to the hospital.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has announced a compensation of 1m rupees ($12,000; £9,425) to families of those who have died and 50,000 rupees each to those who are hospitalised.

“Those involved in the crime have been arrested. Action has also been taken against the officials who failed to prevent it,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

But opposition parties have criticised the government for failing to curb toxic alcohol in the state.

“The deaths caused by illicit liquor in the past two years under the DMK [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam] regime have decelerated Tamil Nadu by four decades, taking us back to the 1980s,” said K Annamalai, the state chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He demanded that the minister in charge of overseeing the sale of alcohol should resign immediately.

Additional reporting by Mayakrishnan Kannan for BBC Tamil

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