A Hundred People Died In Moonshine Tragedy In India

Jun 23, 2015 12:20 PM EDT | By Geo Carlo Ruben

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In Mumbai, India, a toxic moonshine accident killed 102 people and seriously sickened scores others of drinkers from a Mumbai slum, Indian police say. Forty-six others have been hospitalized, with many in a critical condition, after consuming the illegal homebrew.

 Mumbai police spokesman Dhananjay Kulkarni told CNN. This is the worst such case in Maharashtra in over a decade - 87 people had died from a similar incident in 2004. The case had come to light last week when some people consumed locally-produced liquor at a bar in Malwani area on Wednesday night. The next day, several people were rushed to hospital for methanol poisoning.

Police have launched an investigation headed by the Crime Branch, following which several people have been arrested including eight police officers, four of whom were suspended by the excise department for negligence. Preliminary reports indicate that the supply of methanol meant for distribution to only legally registered alcohol manufacturers but was routed instead to bootleggers by the Gujarat methanol mafia.

Methanol, a highly toxic form of alcohol used as anti-freeze or fuel, is often added to bootleg liquor in India as a cheap and quick method of upping the alcohol content. Unlicensed liquor is widely consumed across India where it is sometimes sold for less than a dollar for a 25cl bottle, with deaths frequently reported.

It is rare however for such incidents to occur in a major city like Mumbai, with most cases taking place in poor, rural villages. It is the worst case of its kind to be recorded in Mumbai since 2004 when around 100 people died.

In January, more than 31 people died near Lucknow in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after drinking a lethal batch of home-brew. And police arrested 12 people in October 2013 after more than three dozen villagers died from toxic liquor also in Uttar Pradesh. In 2011 nearly 170 people died in the eastern state of West Bengal after drinking moonshine. 

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