39 die, dozens sick in India from drinking spurious liquor

NEW DELHI (AP) – Police said 39 people have died and another 27 fallen sick from drinking spurious liquor containing toxic methanol in several villages in the northern India.

Senior police officer Ashok Kumar said 26 died in two separate incidents in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 306 kilometres east of capital New Delhi, while 13 others died in the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand.

Kumar said victims consumed liquor during a customary feast.

Police have arrested eight suspected bootleggers while the provincial governments have suspended 35 officials including 12 police.

Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in India because the poor cannot afford licensed brands. Illicit liquor is cheap and often spiked with chemicals such as pesticides to increase potency.