39 dead and dozens sick after drinking illicit, toxic liquor in India

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The number of people who have died after drinking illegally brewed alcohol in northern India rose to 72 on Saturday as authorities launched a crackdown and suspended police and officials.

Saharanpur District Magistrate Alok Kumar Pandey told reporters on Friday that people from Umahi, Sarbatpur, Mali and Salempur villages of Nangal and Gagalheri area of Saharanpur district had gone to Balupur village of neighbouring Hardwar district in Uttarakhand to attend the "Terahvi" (a ritual after death) of someone.

Likewise, in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh nine deaths have taken place owing to the consumption of spurious alcohol.

"About 38-40 persons were still in hospital and undergoing treatment but they are said to be out of danger", Rautela added.

Pandey said 10 policemen and four excise officials were suspended following the deaths in Saharanpur.

"We have directed health officials to provide all possible assistance to the people that have been admitted in hospital because of the tragedy".

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The villagers had consumed the tainted liquor suspected of being laced with methanol on Thursday.

Officials in Uttar Pradesh say it is the second incident of its kind in the state during past two days.

According to Kushinagar District Magistrate, Anil Kumar, eight deaths have been reported in Kushinagar district.

The majority of the deaths were reported from the village of Balpur in Uttarakhand.

"In the post-mortem report, the cause behind the death of two people was not clear so the viscera sample has been sent to Varanasi for a chemical test to ascertain the cause of death".

"The Chief Minister has asked Principal secretary Excise department to initiate a departmental inquiry to fix responsibility and ordered Director-General of Police take stern action against the people involved in the sale of spurious liquor", a government spokesman said. Adityanath has also announced Rs 2-lakh compensation for the families of those who died and Rs 50,000 each for those undergoing treatment.

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