MUMBAI: The death toll from India’s latest incident of mass alcohol poisoning following the consumption of toxic homemade liquor rose to 74 on Saturday, Mumbai police said.
Dhananjay Kulkarni, police deputy commissioner in the western Indian city, told AFP the number who had died from drinking the moonshine had increased from 53 late on Friday.
“Seventy-four have now died and 21 are receiving treatment in hospital,” he said, adding that the toll was expected to increase further.
Victims first started to fall ill on Wednesday morning after consuming the illegal booze and patients were still being admitted to hospital on Saturday, the commissioner said.
Five people have so far been arrested for distributing and selling the alcohol in a slum in the suburb of Malad West, in the north of the city. Eight police officers have also been suspended for “negligence” for allowing the sale to take place on their patch, Kulkarni said.
Unlicensed liquor is widely consumed across India where it is sometimes sold for less than a dollar for a 25cl bottle, with deaths frequently reported. It is rare however for such incidents to occur in a major city like Mumbai, with most cases taking place in poor, rural villages.