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Indians die from tainted bootleg liquor

20th December 2011

More than 140 people have died in India, with 100 people hospitalised, after they drank cheap alcohol contaminated with methanol, which is toxic.

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In India, cheap alcohol is often laced with methanol and other chemicals to make it seem more potent.

Police in South 24 Parganas, an impoverished district of West Bengal, have now arrested 10 people in connection with making and distributing the liquor, up from an initial four arrests following the first deaths.

People in Sangrampur also stormed illegal shops and breweries in outrage.

But corrupt police and local officials may also play a protective role toward the bootleggers.

Medical facilities are scarce in West Bengal, and the death toll of those affected by the alcohol may rise.

The people who were killed or hospitalised as a result of drinking the alcohol were mostly from Sangrampur, a village south of Calcutta, capital of West Bengal.

After many people began to fall severely ill, ambulances were brought to the town every few minutes.

Last week, the Indian state of Gujarat (where, in 2009, a similar incident killed 112 people) introduced a death penalty for people involved in making and selling contaminated alcohol.

Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of the state of West Bengal, said he wanted to take strong action against the manufacture and sale of illegal bootlegs.

In 1992, more than 200 people died after a similar incident occurred in Orissa.

The recent poisoning happened just days after a hospital fire killed 93 people in the same Indian state.

Zamir Sardar, whose 32-year-old uncle Jahangir Sardar, a leather cutter, died after drinking the alcohol, said that his uncle's health seemed to be all right at first.

He said that although Jahangir drank the alcohol late in the afternoon, he did not begin to notice a difference in his uncle's condition until the next morning.

Jangahir Sardar passed away within hours, and doctors at the hospital are reporting that the death toll is still climbing.

The half-conscious patients were brought in for treatment on stretchers, and were forced to lie on the hospital floor.

The death toll climbed steadily, with 36 people dead last week and 136 hospitalised, some of whom were moved to hospitals in Calcutta.

Unfortunately, such deaths are common in India.

Nearly 170 people were killed in 2008 in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in 2008, two of the country's southern states.

 

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