Toxic liquor kills 20 in India
Kolkata - At least 20 people died after consuming toxic home-made liquor in an eastern Indian state, officials said on Wednesday, warning that the toll was likely to rise.
The deaths were reported from the impoverished district of 24 Parganas in West Bengal state, local officials said.
"So far 20 people have died and at least 100 others [have been] taken ill after they drank toxic liquor in Sangrampur village during the past 24 hours," said district administrator NS Nigam.
He said some of those critically ill have been taken to hospital in cities including the state capital, Kolkata.
"The toll is likely to rise as many of those injured are seriously ill," Nigam warned.
He said that local residents ransacked four breweries early on Wednesday after the villagers died in Sangrampur, some 30km from Kolkata.
The Press Trust of India - quoting district police chief Lakshmi Narayan Meena - said that 122 people were in hospital.
Ten of the victims died in their village while the remaining 10 perished in hospital, Meena said, adding that four alleged bootleggers have been arrested so far.
The overnight moonshine deaths were the highest since July 2009, when 122 people were killed in western Gujarat state after consuming toxic alcohol.
Deaths from cheap alcohol are common in India, where nearly 170 people were killed in 2008 in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu after drinking the same batch of adulterated alcohol.