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Methanol-Laced Liquor Kills 126 in Eastern India


A doctor tends to alcohol poisoning patients receiving medical treatment at the Diamond Harbour sub-divisional hospital in Diamond Harbour, December 15, 2011.

A doctor tends to alcohol poisoning patients receiving medical treatment at the Diamond Harbour sub-divisional hospital in Diamond Harbour, December 15, 2011.

Officials in eastern India say at least 126 people have died after drinking a batch of homemade liquor laced with the toxic chemical methanol.

The residents, mostly day laborers and poor workers, became sick after buying cheap alcohol from bootleggers late Tuesday near the village of Sangrampur in West Bengal state.

Officials say police have arrested seven people for allegedly making and distributing the tainted liquor.

Authorities warn that the death toll is likely to rise, with dozens of other victims being treated for alcohol poisoning at local hospitals.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee vowed Thursday to crack down on illegal liquor brewers, who often spike their alcohol with chemicals to increase potency.

On Wednesday, villagers angered by the deaths ransacked local breweries suspected of selling the tainted liquor.

Alcohol poisoning kills hundreds of people in India every year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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