In Mumbai, Death Toll From Poison Alcohol Climbs

A batch of tainted alcohol has fatally poisoned at least 90 people across Mumbai this week, and officials suspect the death toll will rise.
Posted at 9:53 PM, Jun 20, 2015

A batch of toxic alcohol has been causing fatal alcohol poisoning incidents across Mumbai in the past week. Indian officials now say they expect the death toll to reach triple digits.

Victims of the poisoned moonshine first began falling ill in a city slum Wednesday, and new patients were still being hospitalized Saturday. A local police commissioner told reporters 90 people have died so far, with 40 people still in treatment.

Authorities suspect the poisonings stem from a homebrewed batch of alcohol, laced with toxic amounts of methanol to increase the alcohol content. Five people have been arrested and four excise officers suspended in connection to the deaths.

Mass alcohol poisonings have plagued India for decades. The country's patchwork of strict alcohol laws and high alcohol taxes have lead to a thriving moonshine industry, which is often spiked with toxic chemicals to increase its potency.

But the mass deaths typically occur in rural areas or states with stringent alcohol bans. Mumbai's last alcohol poisoning spree occurred in 2004, when 104 people died after drinking tainted moonshine.