Morning Breaking: Poisonous liquor kills 42 in Uttar Pradesh

Indian police gather around containers of bootleg alcohol in 2017

Indian police gather around containers of bootleg alcohol in 2017

At least 39 people have died and another 27 have fallen sick from drinking cheap liquor containing toxic methanol in several villages in northern India.

The city of Saharanpur's top administrative officer said a man had distributed some 30 pouches of the poisonous liquor that caused the deaths, Indian broadcaster NDTV reported.

More than 90 people are estimated to have died in Saharanpur and Haridwar, adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand states, after consuming the methanol-laced brew on Thursday.

Alok Kumar Pandey, district magistrate, said a feast had taken place where several of the deaths occurred. About 24 people are admitted to the hospital.

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According to Indian officials, more than 200 people were arrested during a crackdown launched after the mass poisoning. They seized hundreds of litres of tainted liquor in raids.

Later on Saturday, authorities in both states announced a compensation of 200,000 rupees (2,800 dollars) each to the relatives of those killed.

An average of 1000 people, mostly from poorer sections of society, die in India each year after consuming illegally brewed alcohol, government data shows.

Cheap, locally-made liquor is common in parts of rural India and bootleggers often add methanol - a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze - to their product to increase its strength.

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