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Toxic liquor death toll rises to 40 in Tando Mohammad Khan: police

TANDO MOHAMMAD KHAN/KARACHI: The death toll among a group of people who drank tainted liquor rose to 40 on Wednesday after more died in hospitals in Tando Mohammad Khan, police said.

The poisonings are among a string of incidents highlighting the proliferation of low-grade liquor in the country.

Eleven people — including two women — lost their lives late Monday, while 12 others died on Tuesday and the death toll continued to rise on Wednesday.

Earlier, the police had said: “The death toll has risen to 23, two women were among the dead,” Mahmood Ahmad, a police official in the town told AFP.

Ahmad said 14 others were still being treated in hospitals.

A second police official in the town confirmed the new death toll.

Nasim Ara Panwar, the town’s senior police officer, earlier told AFP that most of the victims were from the minority Hindu community.

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.

Gayan Chand Israni, the minister in charge of excise and taxation, which regulates alcohol, said an inquiry was underway and several officials 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 citizens 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.

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