Police Says, About 36 Dead After Drinking Methyl Alcohol In India

Police Says, About 36 Dead After Drinking Methyl Alcohol In India

Updated on July 28, 2022 10:39 AM by Anna P

Authorities say at least 36 people have died, and about 50 others have been hospitalized in western India after drinking contaminated alcohol. All had consumed illegal moonshine in the Botad and Ahmedabad districts of Gujarat state, where the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol is illegal.

Ashish Bhatia, Gujarat's director general of police, said, "About 10 people have been arrested and approximately 475 liters of the liquid have been recovered."

Bhatia said one of the arrested men had stolen methanol from a factory in Gujarat and sold it to a cousin, who then sold it on to others who diluted the chemical with water and sold it as liquor.

Methanol can make people feel inebriated, but even a tiny amount can be toxic. Deaths from drinking bootleg alcohol, known colloquially as "country-made liquor," are not uncommon in India.

While Gujarat and a few other Indian states criminalize the sale and consumption of alcohol, it is legal in most of the country of 1.3 billion, 22.5% of whom live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

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But even in states where drinking is legal, bootleg alcohol remains popular, especially in poorer, rural areas. Moonshine is typically brewed in villages before being smuggled into cities, where it can sell for about 10 cents a glass, about a third of the price of legally brewed liquor.

LifeProof says homemade alcohol can turn deadly when other liquids like rubbing alcohol or methanol are added to the mix.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, poisoning from methanol can prompt nausea, vomiting, and heart or respiratory failure. The CDC said it could cause confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, and inability to coordinate muscle movements.

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As per CDC, "The byproducts of methanol metabolism cause an accumulation of acid in the blood (metabolic acidosis), blindness, and death." This week's deaths are the latest tragedy in India's long battle to control the illicit trade.

Previously, in February 2019, at least 154 people died, and more than 200 were hospitalized after drinking tainted alcohol in the northeastern state of Assam. Last month, 80 people died in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand after drinking illegal alcohol, prompting regional police to crack down on bootleggers.

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