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Methyl Alcohol In Homemade Liquor May Have Killed At Least 154 In India

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At least 154 have died and more than 200 others have been hospitalized after consuming tainted alcohol in the northeast state of Assam in India.

Methyl Alcohol Poisoning

The victims drank illicit booze known in the locality as "country-made liquor". Officials have so far arrested 34 people for their involvement in the supply of the alcohol.

"It is illicit liquor that was brewed locally. We are still investigating what was the composition and what was mixed in the alcohol," said Golaghat district senior police officer Mukesh Agarwal.

The police suspect the victims, who are mostly tea garden workers, contracted methyl alcohol poisoning from methanol added to the mixture.

Local reports claim the brew called "sulai", which is often made with jaggery and ethyl alcohol, was made by a 65-year-old woman identified as Dhraupadi Oran and her 30-year-old son Sanju Oran.

The pair, who were among the dead, may have used methyl alcohol instead of ethyl alcohol. Even a very small amount of methyl alcohol is toxic. Poisoning may result in dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, headaches, and the inability to coordinate muscle movements.

India's Battle With Illegal Liquor

The incident is the latest in the country's battle with fake or illegal alcohol. Impoverished people who cannot afford to buy licensed drinks from government-controlled outlets turn to hooch because it is cheaper and readily available.

Homemade alcohol brewed in villages that are smuggled into cities sells for about 10 cents a glass, which is about a third of the price of the legally brewed liquor.

The incident occurred less than two weeks after nearly 100 people died of alcohol poisoning in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The illicit hooch contains industrial alcohol used in household disinfectants and antifreeze.

The deadliest of these alcohol-related poisoning occurred in 2011 in the state of West Bengal, where a batch of country-made liquor killed at least 168 people.

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