Toll in Uttar Pradesh hooch tragedy rises to 13

Lucknow, Feb 18 (IANS) At least eight more people have died after drinking moonshine in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi district, taking the toll to 13, an official said Thursday.

‘The toll till Thursday morning was 13. At least 20 people who had consumed the liquor are being treated in different hospitals,’ District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar told reporters.

‘The condition of at least 10 people, who are undergoing treatment, is stated to be critical. So, the toll may rise further. On the directions of the state government, a high-level enquiry has been initiated into the case,’ he added.

According to police, a case against six people has been registered for selling spurious liquor. Two men were arrested late Wednesday evening on charges of selling illicit liquor.

Three policemen, including a station house officer (SHO), were placed under suspension for not checking the sale of moonshine in Varanasi, some 250 km from state capital Lucknow.

A majority of those who died were from Soyepur, Saidpur and Benipur villages in Varanasi district.

‘We found that the patients had consumed liquor that contained high level of methyl alcohol,’ Varanasi chief medical officer R.S. Verma told IANS Thursday.

Residents of several villages were admitted to the Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital and the hospital of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Wednesday after they fell ill with symptoms like body pain and chest congestion.

According to officials, several people Tuesday and Wednesday purchased moonshine in plastic pouches from spurious liquor manufacturing units in the villages.

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