Spurious alcohol deaths are often reported in India, where people often drink cheap country-made bootleg liquor
At least 16 people died after taking what police called spurious liquor amid a ban on the drug item in the Indian state of Bihar.
Eight of the deaths were reported on Friday when local police picked up at least five people, including two women, for interrogation in connection with hooch deaths, reports the Hindustan Times.
The rest victims died since Wednesday. All 16 deaths took place in the West Champaran district.
The sale and consumption of liquor is banned in Bihar since April 2016.
Spurious alcohol deaths are often reported in India, where people often drink cheap country-made bootleg liquor. At least 25 people died after drinking toxic alcohol in northern India in late May.
Last year, 98 people died in the northern state of Punjab after drinking bootleg booze. And in 2019, some 150 people died in north-eastern Assam state, most of them tea plantation workers.
Kundan Kumar, district magistrate (West Champaran), said eight people died in three separate villages - Deurawa (4), Jogiya (3) and Bagahi (1) - over the past two-three days.
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A press release issued by the West Champaran district administration late on Friday evening said eight other deaths were reported from the same area on Friday.
“In the course of the investigation, the family members of four deceased accepted the death occurred owing to the consumption of spurious liquor. However, family members of four other deceased denied liquor consumption. They, however, did not furnish any medical documents about any ailments either,” it stated.
Of the estimated five billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in the country, around 40% is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.
The liquor is often spiked with methanol -- a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze -- to increase its potency. If ingested, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.