21 people die and 30 sick in India after drinking fortified alcohol

AHMEDABAD, India (AP) — At least 21 people have died and 30 others have fallen ill after drinking tainted alcohol in western India, officials said Tuesday.

A senior government official, Mukesh Parmar, said the deaths occurred in Ahmedabad and Botad districts in Gujarat state, where the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol is banned. It was not immediately clear what chemical was used to alter the liquor.

The Press Trust of India news agency said police had arrested several suspected smugglers involved in selling the doped alcohol.

Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in India, where illicit alcohol is cheap and often fortified with chemicals such as pesticides to increase potency.

Illicit alcohol has also become a hugely profitable industry across India where traffickers pay no taxes and sell huge quantities of their product to the poor at low prices.

In 2020, at least 120 people died after drinking contaminated alcohol in the northern Indian state of Punjab.