At least 99 dead after consuming toxic alcohol in India

Police spokesman said 59 people died in one of the districts in Uttar Pradesh after ingesting the toxic alcohol. Above, police raid an illegal alcohol manufacturer in Uttar Pradesh state after dozens of people died after ingesting toxic alcohol. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2019
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At least 99 dead after consuming toxic alcohol in India

  • Officials suspect high levels of methanol chemical were added to the locally-made liquor
  • The chemical can cause blindness, liver damage and death if ingested in large quantities

NEW DELHI: At least 99 people have died and scores have been hospitalized in northern India after drinking toxic alcohol, triggering a crackdown against bootleggers, officials said Monday.
News of the deaths in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand has trickled in over the past three days, with police suspecting the moonshine had been cut with methanol.
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.
If ingested in large quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.
In one district of Uttar Pradesh 59 people had died after consuming toxic alcohol, police spokesman Shailendra Kumar Sharma told AFP.
In a neighboring district a senior police officer said nine had died, adding that 66 suspected bootleggers had been arrested and samples of the liquor sent to a laboratory for testing.
Police said at least 31 people died in neighboring Uttarakhand state and that two had been arrested on suspicion of supplying the liquor.
Newspaper reports said around 3,000 people linked with the illegal trade were arrested across Uttar Pradesh in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Hundreds of poor people die every year in India due to alcohol poisoning, mostly from consuming cheap alcohol.
In 2015, more than 100 people died in a Mumbai slum after drinking illegal moonshine.
Of the estimated 5 billion liters of alcohol drunk every year in India, around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 49 min 58 sec ago

India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.