At least 133 people have died and some 225 have been hospitalized after drinking illegally produced alcohol in two incidents the northeastern Indian state of Assam, officials said on February 24.
Police official Mukesh Agarwal the victims of the bootleg liquor were mostly workers on tea plantations in Golaghat and Jorhat districts in Assam, India’s largest tea-producing state.
Police and health officials said the workers on February 21 drank the liquor laced with methyl alcohol, a chemical that attacks the central nervous system.
The workers were rushed to nearby hospitals after they began falling unconscious.
Agarwal said the owner of a local brewing operation and about a dozen other people have been arrested. Police are continuing to investigate and other people are being pursued, officials added.
"We shall not spare anyone involved in manufacture and distribution of the tainted liquor," said Himanta Biswa Sharma, Assam's health minister.
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 incidents are believed to be the deadliest since a similar case killed 172 in West Bengal in 2011.