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Magistrate says death toll rises to 102 from tainted batch of bootleg liquor in eastern India
KOLKATA, India (AP) ' A local magistrate says a tainted batch of bootleg liquor has killed 102 people and sent dozens more to the hospital in eastern India.
Police say four people were arrested in connection with making and distributing the toxic booze, which is often spiked with chemicals to increase its potency.
People began falling ill after drinking the brew Tuesday night in the village of Sangrampur, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Kolkata.
District magistrate N. S. Nigam said Thursday that the death toll had skyrocketed to 102.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
KOLKATA, India (AP) ' A tainted batch of bootleg liquor killed at least 80 people and sent dozens more to the hospital in villages outside the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, officials said.
Day laborers and other poor workers began falling ill late Tuesday after drinking the brew that was laced with the toxic methanol around the village of Sangrampur, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Kolkata, according to district magistrate Narayan Swarup Nigam.
Police arrested four people in connection with making and distributing the toxic booze, said police official Surajit Kar Purkayastha.
By Thursday morning the death toll had skyrocketed to at least 80, and 74 remained hospitalized, Nigam said.
Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of the state of West Bengal, promised a crackdown.
"I want to take strong action against those manufacturing and selling illegal liquor," she said, according to Press Trust of India. "But this is a social problem also, and this has to be dealt with socially also along with action."
The deaths came just days after more than 90 people were killed in a hospital fire in nearby Kolkata that led to the arrest of the facility's directors for culpable homicide.
The latest tragedy began Tuesday night when groups of poor laborers finished work and bought some cheap homemade booze for about 10 rupees (20 cents) a half liter, less than one-third the price of legal alcohol.
The men were drinking along the roadside near the railway station, when they began vomiting, suffering piercing headaches and frothing at the mouth, Nigam said.
Arman Seikh, 23-years-old, rushed his brother-in-law to the hospital.
"He complained of burning chest and severe stomach pain last night," he told The Associated Press.
Furious villagers ransacked the illegal alcohol shops.
Cheap bootleg liquor kills dozens of people every year in India. In 2009, at least 112 people died from a toxic brew in western India.