More than 100 people have died and scores more have been hospitalised after drinking toxic moonshine in northern India.
The deaths, in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, were reported over the past three days, with police suspecting the alcohol had been mixed with methanol – a highly toxic substance often used as an anti-freeze.
It is believed the illegal drink was first consumed at a funeral in Haridwar, where 36 people died and 18 remain in hospital.
The deaths, in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, were reported over the past three days, with police suspecting the alcohol had been mixed with methanol (Pictured, two men who consumed bootleg alcohol in Saharanpur)
A further 69 people are believed to have died after the drink was taken into Utter Pradesh.
Around 3,000 people linked with the illegal trade were arrested across the state in the aftermath of the tragedy, local media said.
Two had been arrested on suspicion of supplying the liquor in Uttarakhand, where at least 31 people died after drinking the toxic substance.
It is believed all those affected complained of stomach pains and breathing problems.
‘He complained of severe stomach ache, so I took him to get an injection,’ the wife of one victim, Hira Lal, said.
It is believed the illegal drink was first consumed at a funeral in Haridwar, where 36 people died and 18 remain in hospital (Pictured, a woman whose husband died after drinking moonshine in Saharanpur)
‘He was better then and slept after coming back home. The pain resumed, so we took him to the hospital again and they admitted him.’
The district magistrate of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh, Alok Kumar Pandey, said last week that doctors had concluded many victims died ‘due to liver infection and problems in their respiratory system’
Cheap, locally-made liquor is common in parts of rural India and bootleggers often add the toxic liquid to their product to increase its strength.
If ingested in large quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.
Some 59 people died after consuming the toxic alcohol in just one district of Uttar Pradesh, police spokesman Shailendra Kumar Sharma said.
Cheap, locally-made liquor is common in parts of rural India and bootleggers often add the toxic liquid to their product to increase its strength (file photo)
In a neighbouring district, a senior police officer said nine were killed, adding that 66 suspected bootleggers had been arrested and samples of the liquor had been sent to laboratories for testing.
Hundreds of people die every year in India due to alcohol poisoning, mostly from consuming cheap alcohol.
In 2015, more than 100 people died in a Mumbai slum after drinking illegal moonshine.
Of the estimated 5 billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in India, around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.