More Deaths in India Expected due to Drinking Illegal Alcohol

Over 150 people have died in India after drinking poisonous illegal alcohol and 50 survivors have been left with permanent blindness while 135 in hospitals are in critical conditions.

The lethal drink was sold last week between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu by gangs of bootleggers after the authorities closed down alcohol shops and bars because of the local elections being held.

Poor migrant workers are among the majority of the victims who have died after consuming the dangerous alcohol which was spiked with chemicals.

Police have arrested sixteen bootleggers and investigations are now underway to bring the halt of more illegal alcohol being made and charges brought against the offenders.

Senior Karnataka police official Shankar Bidri told the BBC that investigators were trying to determine whether all the deaths were caused by the same batch of illegal alcohol.

Illegally brewed alcohol is far cheaper and more readily available it highly popular and mostly purchased in the villages; because the brew is laced with pesticides and chemicals it boots the alcohol to a much stronger strength.

No Beds at Hospitals

Hospital and staff are struggling to cope with the influx of patients and the head of the Cuddalore hospital in S Jayaraj told the press "We are treating them in the corridors. We just don't have the beds”.

The authorities believe that many of the poor workers are ill in their huts and too scared to go for help because of the repercussions of buying the illegal alcohol.

Because of this, police superintendent S Davision Devasirvatham has tasked his men with going to the villages to assure those that are too scared to come forward for help by telling them that no action will be taken against them. They are urging them to go for immediate treatment at the nearest hospital.

Deaths in South Asia are quite common through illegally brewed alcohol but this case has been reported as shockingly high and they expect the death toll to rise after believing more of the illegal brew is still in abundance and many are unaware of the outcome if they drink it.

Illicit distillation in India has been widespread for many years and has fast become a lucrative business with gangs of bootleggers setting up distillers away from villages and towns.

Village police are often bribed to turn a blind eye to this growing trade and it’s not unknown for police officers to found taking bribes and a number of them have been transferred or suspended.

A village woman who tried to fight against the sale of the illicit brew was murdered earlier this year.