A deadly batch of illegal alcohol has claimed the lives of at least 34 people in Tamil Nadu, India, with over 100 others hospitalized, state officials reported on Thursday.

The toxic mixture, identified as locally brewed arrack, was found to be laced with poisonous methanol, according to Tamil Nadu’s chief minister, M.K. Stalin, as reported by the Press Trust of India.

Stalin announced that arrests have been made in connection with the deaths and issued a stern warning, stating that such crimes “ruin society and will be suppressed with an iron fist.”

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Every year, hundreds of people in India fall victim to cheap, illicit alcohol produced in unregulated backstreet distilleries. Methanol, often added to boost the potency of the liquor, can cause severe health issues such as blindness, liver damage, and death.

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In this recent incident in Tamil Nadu, more than 100 people were rushed to hospitals, according to M.S. Prasanth, a senior government official in the Kallakurichi district, as quoted by Indian media. State governor R.N. Ravi expressed his shock and concern over the deaths, noting that many victims remain in serious condition.

Although Tamil Nadu allows the legal sale of alcohol, the black market offers a cheaper alternative, leading to the production and consumption of dangerous moonshine. The illegal liquor trade is further fueled in parts of India where alcohol sales and consumption are prohibited.

Incidents of toxic alcohol poisoning are tragically common in India. Last year, at least 27 people died from poisonous alcohol in Bihar, while in 2022, a similar tragedy in Gujarat resulted in 42 deaths.

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