35 more workers have died in northeastern India after drinking toxic liquor taking the death toll from the latest mass alcohol poisoning beyond 130.
People started falling sick after consuming a batch of illegally produced liquor late Thursday. The victims, who include many women, worked at local tea estates in the region. Doctors said those rushed to hospital in a critical condition were suffering from severe vomiting extreme chest pain and breathlessness.
Two excise department officials have been arrested for failing to take adequate precautions over the sale of the liquor.
Cheap, locally made liquor is common in parts of rural India and bootleggers often add methanol, a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an antifreeze, to their product to increase its strength.
If ingested in large quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death. Hundreds of mainly poor people die each year in the South Asian country from tainted liquor, which normally costs just a few US cents a bottle.
Of the estimated five billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in India, around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.
Many Indian states have implemented or pushed for prohibition, which, according to critics, further increases the unsupervised manufacture and sale of alcohol.
The deaths in Assam state comes less than two weeks after tainted liquor killed about 100 people in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.