Lucknow: Police said on Sunday that at least 25 people died from drinking toxic alcohol in northern India.
Police arrested 10 men suspected of selling spirits in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.
“So far 25 persons have died and a few others are admitted in the hospital and are undergoing treatment. Ten persons have been arrested,” Ajab Singh, a police spokesperson, told AFP.
Local media reported that the liquor was purchased on Thursday from a shop run by two brothers.
Liquor stores in the state had been shuttered under a coronavirus lockdown imposed to combat a devastating wave. About 160,000 people have died countrywide since April 1.
But as case numbers started to slow, Uttar Pradesh allowed liquor sales to resume in some districts on May 11 with restricted hours.
Although it is not clear how the wine in the Uttar Pradesh case was produced, hundreds of people die every year in India from the cheap alcohol produced by the Backstreet Distillery, which even the poorest people can afford.
According to estimates by the International Spirits Association of India, the country consumes an estimated 5 billion liters of alcohol each year, of which about 40% is produced illegally.
The liquor is often spiked with methanol — a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze — to increase its potency. If ingested, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.
Last year, 98 people died after drinking non-alcoholic beverages in Punjab in the north.
In 2019, about 150 people died in the northeastern Assam state, most of whom were tea plantation workers.