Toxic bootleg alcohol kills more than 80 in India

Several people in India died after drinking poisonous liquor

So far 45 people have died in Jorhat Medical College Hospital, where 221 who were taken ill after drinking spurious liquor have been admitted, the health minister's office said.

Police suspect the liquor was procured late Thursday night from the home of a 65-year-old woman named Dhraupadi Oran and her 30-year-old son Sanju Oran in the Salmara tea garden of Golaghat.

Deaths from illegally produced alcohol, which is much cheaper than branded spirits, are common in India.

According to health department reports from Swahid Kushal Konwar Civil Hospital in Golaghat and Jorhat Medical College and Hospital where the affected are being treated, 70 from Golaghat district and 23 from Jorhat district have died till now.

An expert team from the city of Guwahati is on its way to analyse the mixture and investigate its contents.

He said the people were brought to the hospitals with complaints of severe vomiting and chest pain.

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Saikia said among those who died were Dhrupadi Oran, from whose house the tea estate workers got the alcohol, and her son Sanju Oran.

"I had bought half a litre (0.9pt) of wine and drank it before eating. Initially, everything was normal, but after some time my head started hurting", one hospitalized tea worker said. Bootleggers often add methanol - a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze - to their mixture to increase its strength, AFP reports.

Consumption of the substance can cause liver damage, blindness or death.

On Saturday, Parimal Suklabaidya, the state minister responsible for regulating the sale of liquor, said that authorities had attempted to tackle the menace of illegal alcohol.

The Assam government has ordered investigations into the deaths.

Police have arrested twelve people in connection with making bootleg alcohol in Assam, a practice local politicians say is rampant in the area's tea estates, where its is drunk by poorly-paid laborers after a tough day's work in the plantations.