At least 24 dead after drinking tainted liquor

Karachi - Over a dozen fall unconscious; Most of the victims belong to Hindu community

By Agencies

Published: Wed 23 Mar 2016, 6:14 PM

At least 24 people including two women died in a southern Pakistani town after drinking tainted liquor, with a dozen more sickened, police said on Tuesday.
The incident is the latest to highlight the proliferation of low-grade liquor in the country, which officially bars Muslims from drinking.The poisonings occurred on Monday evening in the town of Tando Mohammed Khan, some 250km from Karachi."So far we have reports of 24 deaths including two women," Nasim Ara Panwar, the town's senior police officer said. Most of the victims were minority Hindus, she added.
A second police official who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media confirmed the incident and toll."Thirty-seven people were brought to hospitals, of whom 24 died, 11 were discharged and nine others are in serious condition," he said.Panwar added police had made four arrests in relation to the incident but were chasing a key suspect who remained at large.
"We have confiscated 65,000 litres of liquor only two days ago but their production is very high," she said.Senior police official Niaz Shah said they consumed the liquor during preparations for Holi celebrations, which will begin on Wednesday.
Gayan Chand Israni, the minister in charge of excise and taxation, which regulates alcohol, said an inquiry was under way and several officials of excise and police had been suspended for negligence.Though legal breweries exist in Pakistan, the sale of alcohol and consumption is prohibited for Muslims and tightly regulated for minorities and foreigners.
While wealthy Pakistanis buy bootlegged foreign alcohol at heavily inflated prices, the poor often resort to home-brews that can contain methanol, commonly used in anti-freeze and fuel.In October 2014 at least 29 drinkers were killed after consuming methanol-tainted liquor over the Eid public holidays.Numerous incidents of mass poisonings from homemade alcohol have been reported in the past.

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