Bootlegged liquor kills 42 in Assam
“It seems the illicit alcohol was contaminated. Initial investigations suggest everyone bought it from her house. She is also among the dead,” Dhruba Bora, additional superintendent of police, said.Updated: Feb 23, 2019 09:49 IST
At least 42 people died of suspected alcohol poisoning at a tea estate in Assam’s Golaghat district since Thursday, officials said on Friday, fearing the number of deaths will rise because 70 more were in hospitals after they consumed locally brewed liquor.
The deaths, including that of at least 15 women, come less than a fortnight after around 100 people died of poisoning from country-made liquor in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Assam chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, formed a one-person inquiry commission to investigate the incident.
Deputy superintendent of police, Partha Protim Saikia, said the incident happened at Halmira Tea Estate, about five kilometres from the district headquarters.
The first deaths were reported around 7 pm on Thursday, according to Ratul Bordoloi, joint director (Health), Golaghat, who has been monitoring the situation. He said the cause of death, according to preliminary investigations, seems to be alcohol poisoning. Twenty-two persons have been reported dead at the civil hospital in Golaghat, Bordoloi said.
As many as 20 deaths have been reported at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, according to MJ Gohain, the spokesperson of the hospital. “Another 46 persons are under treatment here,” said an official at the JMCH.
The dead include Dhrupadi Oran,65, from whose house the illicit alcohol was bought by the workers at the Halmira Tea Estate, and her son, Sanju Oran, 30. Saikia said Sanju had bought the sulai, as the liquor made of jaggery and ethyl alcohol is known locally, in a jerrycan. “We suspect they mixed methyl alcohol instead of ethyl alcohol,” he said adding the death of Sanju has made investigations into the source of the illicit liquor difficult.
Methyl alcohol is poisonous for human consumption, though it is sometimes added in small amounts to increase the potency of a brew or is present in high amounts in liquor made incorrectly.
Saikia also claimed that the sulai was not brewed inside the tea estate but brought from outside by Sanju.
Superintendent of Police, Pushpraj Singh, said the police have a lead about the source and looking into it. No arrests have been made so far.