Toxic liquor kills at least 37 in India's Bihar state

The eastern state is one of several where alcohol is illegal

Mourners at the funeral of a victim suspected to have died after drinking tainted liquor in the Saran district of Bihar state in India. AP
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Dozens of people have died after drinking toxic liquor in India's eastern state of Bihar where alcohol is banned, officials said on Saturday.

The death toll was put at 37 but unconfirmed reports in local media said more than 70 people may have died from poisoning.

Selling and consuming liquor is banned in several parts of India, driving a thriving black market for potent moonshine that kills hundreds every year.

Families of the latest victims said that people from several villages drank a concoction known as Mahua or Desi Daru on Monday at a wedding and other events.

Many then complained of stomach pain and vision loss and started vomiting. By Thursday, more 20 people were dead and on Saturday about a dozen were in hospital in a critical condition.

“More than two dozen people have lost their lives in the last 48 hours,” a police official said.

He said that 37 people had died so far.

Police have detained more than 100 people in connection with illegal manufacturing and selling liquor in the last three days, while 600 litres of moonshine were confiscated.

Local authorities have been trumpeting their use of drones, helicopters and motorboats to tackle the black market, but the most recent incident is the latest in a string of deadly cases.

Updated: December 17, 2022, 10:02 AM