Ninety-three workers have died and at least 200 others have been hospitalised in northeastern India after drinking toxic liquor, officials said yesterday, in the latest case of alcohol poisoning in the country.
The deaths in Assam state came less than two weeks after tainted liquor killed about 100 people in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Dhiren Hazarika, deputy commissioner of Golaghat district in Assam said people started falling sick after consuming a batch of illegally produced liquor late Thursday.
The victims, who include many women, worked at local tea estates in the region. The death toll could rise further as officials said some of the afflicted were in a critical condition.
"The people came to the hospital with severe vomiting, extreme chest pain and breathlessness," doctor Ratul Bordoloi, joint director of Golaghat's health department, told AFP.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered an inquiry.
State police said they had arrested one man for selling the liquor, and authorities said two excise department officials were suspended for failing to take adequate precautions over the sale of the alcohol.
Some media reports, citing anonymous sources, said that more than 100 people had died and the exact number was still being verified by authorities.
Cheap, locally made liquor is common in parts of rural India and bootleggers often add methanol -- a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze -- to their product to increase its strength.