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“Tamil Nadu Toxic Alcohol Tragedy: 34 Dead, Dozens Hospitalized Amid Government Criticism”

At least 34 people have died after consuming toxic bootleg alcohol in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, officials reported. The incident occurred in Kallakuruchi district, where several residents fell ill after drinking the illicit liquor on Tuesday night.

Currently, at least 80 people are receiving treatment in hospitals for various illnesses, including severe diarrhoea. Officials have warned that the death toll could increase.

Two individuals have been arrested in connection with the incident, and a broader investigation is underway. Additionally, authorities have suspended a senior police official and ten members of the state’s prohibition enforcement wing, responsible for preventing the smuggling of illicit alcohol, citing negligence.

Every year, dozens of people in India die after consuming bootleg alcohol from unauthorized distilleries. To increase the potency of their concoctions, bootleggers often add methanol—a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as antifreeze. Even small amounts of methanol can cause blindness, liver damage, and death.

In Kallakuruchi, the suspects allegedly distributed the deadly mixture in packets through a local vendor, according to The News Minute website.

Those who consumed the toxic alcohol experienced symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and eye irritation, prompting their hospitalization. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has announced compensation of 1 million rupees ($12,000; £9,425) for the families of the deceased and 50,000 rupees for those who are hospitalized.

“Those involved in the crime have been arrested, and action has been taken against the officials who failed to prevent it,” Stalin wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

However, opposition parties have criticized the government for failing to curb the spread of toxic alcohol in the state.

“The deaths caused by illicit liquor in the past two years under the DMK [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam] regime have set Tamil Nadu back by four decades, taking us back to the 1980s,” said K Annamalai, the state chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He demanded the resignation of the minister in charge of overseeing alcohol sales.

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