Assam Hooch Tragedy: 66 Tea Garden Workers Dead After Consuming Spurious Liquor

The first cases, reported Thursday evening, indicated most victims were tea garden workers, said Manoj Baruah, an official in Jorhat, the other district where cases were reported.

At least 93 people have died and about 200 people have been hospitalized after drinking tainted liquor in two separate incidents in India's northeast, authorities said Saturday.

Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol, known locally as hooch or country liquor, are common in India, with licensed brands unaffordable for numerous country's lowest-paid workers.

The tragic incident is the second to take place in less than a week, after an estimated 100 people previously died from poisoned bootleg liquor in the state of Uttar Pradesh and surrounding areas.

"While 18 people died at the Golaghat Civil Hospital, the rest breathed their last at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital", Joint Director of Health, Golaghat district, Rathin Bordoloi, had said on Friday.

The deaths occurred in the state of Assam when workers on tea plantations consumed tainted liquor sold by unlicensed vendors, officials said. The doctors, nurses and the staff of the two hospitals are giving their best for the medical care of the patients.

Bootleg liquor is cheap, powerful and widely available in India, making it a popular option for those who can not afford the alcohol sold at state-licensed outlets.

"The headache grew so much that I could not eat or sleep", said the worker, who then developed chest pain. Bootleggers have been known to spike their product with methanol, a toxic substance used in antifreeze, to boost potency.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal condemned the incident and sent a team to the district to take stock of the situation.

Consumption of the substance can cause liver damage, blindness or death.

Of the estimated five billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in India, around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.


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