Moonshine Kills 133 People in India, 327 Hospitalized

 @LauraMatt
on December 16 2011 8:42 AM

At least 133 people in India are dead and 327 others hospitalized after drinking moonshine, health officials have said.

CNN reported that authorities have conducted a raid on liquor vendors in the Indian state of West Bengal on Thursday after the deaths and after hundreds were left sickened from drinking the tainted beverage.

Many of the more than 300 people hospitalized were in critical condition, according to reports.

S.P. Basak, the director of the West Bengal health department, has feared that the death toll could rise, according to CNN.

It is believed that the victims are mainly poor villagers. Authorities told the media they bought the 200-milliliter (7-fluid-ounce) pouches of moonshine for approximately 10 cents each.

CNN has reported that the cheapest brands of liquor that is produced legitimately is sold for 70 cents for a 600-milliliter bottle.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Indian officials have since ordered a criminal investigation in the case as the more than 100 people died within 48 hours of drinking the tainted bootleg alcohol. That report also stated the government of that state has promised to give each victim's family $4,000.

The Times also noted that seven people were arrested on suspicion of selling the tainted liquor. However, the manufacturers are still believed to be at large.

CNN has reported that authorities have closed off a factory they believe is connected with the making of the moonshine brew. 

Local officials told the media that the laborers who drank the tainted brew stated getting sick on Tuesday night. They started flooding the hospitals on Wednesday morning complaining of stomach pain, diarrhea and breathing problems.

The home brew is known locally as chepti. It was laced with methanol, which is used as a fuel, solvent or antifreeze, according to the Times. Methanol is very toxic and its consumption can lead to blindness or death.

I want to take strong action against those manufacturing and selling illegal liquor, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, told local news media, as reported by the Times. But this is a social problem also, and this has to be dealt with socially ... along with [taking direct] action.

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