LUCKNOW, India (AP) – A bad batch of bootleg liquor killed at least 28 people and sent 160 others to hospitals in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, officials said Tuesday.
Many of the victims were among more than 200 people who had gathered to watch a cricket match Sunday evening in a village about 30 kilometres southwest of the state capital, Lucknow, government official Anil Garg said.
By midday Tuesday, 28 people had died, including 11 in another village farther southwest, police officer Mukul Goel said.
Doctors in Lucknow said that some of those hospitalised were in serious condition and relying on artificial ventilation, and that some had lost their eyesight.
Police arrested the shop owner who sold the 200-millilitre pouches of the homemade alcohol for about 30 cents each. A raid of the shop uncovered large containers of chemicals, which have been sent to a laboratory for testing, district official RK Pandey said.
“The symptoms gave a clear indication that these patients were served methyl alcohol,” which despite being toxic is sometimes mixed with ethyl alcohol to make a brew cheaper, said Dr Kausar Usman, head of the trauma centre at Lucknow’s King George’s Medical College.
Deaths from drinking illegally brewed alcohol are common in India because the poor cannot afford licensed liquor.