GUWAHATI, INDIA: At least 84 people have died from drinking toxic bootleg liquor in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, and around 200 others have been hospitalised, a government minister said on Saturday.
The deaths come less than two weeks after more than 100 people died from drinking tainted alcohol in northern India.
"Every 10 minutes we are getting reports of casualties from different places. So far about 200 people are in hospital with many of them critical," Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told Reuters via telephone.
"Doctors from nearby districts and other medical colleges have been rushed in to deal with the crisis," said Sarma, after visiting patients at Jorhat, located some 300 kilometres east of the state's financial hub, Guwahati.
Deaths from illegally produced alcohol, known locally as hooch or country liquor, are common in India, where many cannot afford branded spirits.
The death tolls from the two recent incidents, however, are believed to be the deadliest since a similar case killed 172 in West Bengal in 2011.
Dilip Rajbnonshi, a doctor at the government hospital in Golaghat, located some 40 kilometres southwest of Jorhat said the deaths were due to "spurious country liquor".
A number of women are also among the casualties, as many of those that drank the liquor were tea plantation workers who had just received their weekly wages, according to another government official.