January 13, 2015 / 11:08 AM / 4 years ago

Bootleg liquor kills 28 in India; death toll may rise

LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) - A batch of bootleg liquor has killed at least 28 people in India, where tainted illegal alcohol often kills poor villagers unable to afford licensed spirits.

Fifteen people died on Tuesday and about 90 remained in hospital, said Debashish Panda, principal home secretary of northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, taking the total death toll since Monday to 28.

The victims from Malihabad, about 25 km (15 miles) from the state capital, Lucknow, became severely ill after consuming the drink on Sunday night, their families said.

The death toll may rise further as most of the victims were in serious condition, said Kausar Usman, a doctor at King George’s Medical University in Lucknow.

Police have arrested two men who they suspect made the brew with methanol, a chemical used in industrial items such as fuel and antifreeze.

Angry family members burned down the rustic distillery where the liquor was produced and sold, police said.

Deaths from drinking moonshine are common in India.

In 2008, 180 people were killed after consuming poisonous moonshine in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in India’s worst spate of deaths in recent years.

Writing by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Malini Menon and Nick Macfie

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