Toll in W Bengal Hooch tragedy mounts to 167

Canning (WB): The death toll in the hooch tragedy jumped to 167 today with 19 more casualties reported from three hospitals as police arrested two more persons in connection with the incident. More deaths are feared in the state`s worst-ever illicit liquor tragedy as condition of several of the victims was critical, health department sources said.

The hooch victims including labourers, rickshaw pullers and hawkers were admitted to Diamond Harbour sub-divisional hospital in South 24 Parganas district and M R Bangur Hospital and National Medical Hospital in Kolkata.

About 90 victims were receiving treatment at the Diamond Harbour Hospital where the condition of two was critical. Postmortem on most of the bodies have been done and the bodies handed over to the respective families, police said.

Two more persons were nabbed from near Sangrampur village and nearby area in South 24 Parganas district raising the total number of those arrested to 12, even as the owner of the hooch den Badsha Khokan was still absconding, the police said.

Health department sources said doctors, nurses, and para-medical staff whose leaves were cancelled were working overtime to attend to the hooch victims.

The victims fell ill after consuming spurious liquor from several illegal joints on Tuesday night. Preliminary investigations suggest that the deaths occurred due to methyl alcohol toxicity which led to respiratory and cardiac failure.

The issue figured in the state Assembly with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announcing a CID inquiry into the tragedy which took place less than a week after the major fire in AMRI hospital which left 93 dead.