At least 36 die in India after drinking tainted liquor

At least 36 die in India after drinking tainted liquor

By Praveen Paramasivam

(Reuters) -At least 36 people died and more than 60 were being treated in hospitals after consuming tainted liquor in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a government spokesperson said on Thursday.

Since Wednesday over 100 people, suffering from vomiting, stomach ache and diarrhoea, have needed hospital treatment in the Kallakurichi district, 250 km (150 miles) by road from the state capital Chennai, the spokesperson said.

The state government said it had taken disciplinary action against at least 10 officials, including the district's chief administrator and its police chief.

"I was shocked and saddened to hear the news ... Action has also been taken against the officials who failed to prevent it," Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said in a post on X.

Police arrested four people over the sale of illicit liquor and seized 200 litres of the methanol-mixed alcoholic drink, the state government said.

Deaths from illegally produced alcohol, known locally as "hooch" or "country liquor", are a regular occurrence in India, where many cannot afford branded spirits.

The Tamil Nadu government said it was also taking steps to identify people involved in the production of methanol - a toxic chemical normally used for industrial purposes.

A video from ANI, in which Reuters has a minority stake, showed healthcare officials carrying patients in ambulances into a hospital while another shot showed several people standing outside a mortuary in Kallakurichi.

More than a dozen people died last year in a similar incident in a nearby district of Tamil Nadu.

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly, Michael Perry and Mark Heinrich)