72 people have been confirmed dead after consuming an illicit liquor in northern India, officials have said.
According to officials, 36 people were confirmed dead in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh after consuming the deadly alcohol."
46 post-mortems were carried out and 36 deaths attributed to consumption of poisonous alcohol." A K Pandey, district magistrate in Saharanpur said Saturday.
In Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar district, 8 deaths have been reported because of the consumption of hooch.
According to health officials nearly two dozen people were still undergoing treatment inside hospital in the two districts and doctors fear the number of deaths could rise.
In Rorkee of Haridwar district in Uttarakhand the death toll has risen to 28 and many others are hospitalized. Police officials said viscera examination on more bodies was yet to be conducted to find out if these too were alcohol-related deaths.
It is believed the victims in Rorkee and Saharanpur obtained liquor from a common source. Officials said the liquor was first consumed in neighboring Uttarakhand where villagers from Saharanpur attended a funeral, and was then smuggled back to Saharanpur district by a villager who then sold it to others.
Authorities in both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have started a crackdown on illicit liquor manufacturing units and sales points. Officials said several people have been detained for questioning.
Several officials associated with excise and police departments have been suspended.Police are conducting raids to tighten noose around illicit liquor vendors.
The local governments in both the states have announced a compensation of 2,806 U.S. dollars to the next of kin of each of those who died in the tragedy and 700 U.S. dollars for those taken ill.
Local media reports however said over 90 people have died after consuming the illicit liquor in the twin states.In December 2011, hooch tragedy killed 172 people in West Bengal.