15 dead, 40 hospitalised after consuming illicit arrack in Tamil Nadu

Villagers in Villupuram and Chengalpattu districts fall prey to deadly cocktail of industrial methanol and fertilizers; police arrest one suspect.

Published : May 15, 2023 18:19 IST - 2 MINS READ

Patients being treated at a hospital after consuming spurious liquor in Chengalpattu and Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, on May 15.

Patients being treated at a hospital after consuming spurious liquor in Chengalpattu and Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, on May 15. | Photo Credit: ANI

At least 15 people died and more than 40 were admitted to hospitals in Villupuram and Puducherry on May 14-15 after consuming illicit arrack in villages in Villupuram and Chengalpattu districts in Tamil Nadu.

Five individuals from the same family, including a woman, from Ekkiyarkuppam village near Marakkanam in Villupuram district, all of them fisherfolk, tragically lost their lives on May 14. The remaining victims succumbed to the deadly cocktail of industrial methanol, fertilizers, and other ingredients on May 15.

According to police sources, the death toll among those from Ekkiyarpuram rose to six by Monday evening, while nine villagers, all from two families in the village of Perukaranai in Chengalpattu, also lost their lives. The police are currently investigating to determine the connection between these two batches of deaths that occurred in different districts. They have apprehended a 27-year-old youth named Amaran, who reportedly used to regularly sell illicit brew to the villagers of Ekkiyapuram. Furthermore, they are searching for four others in connection with this incident.

The victims, after consuming the liquor, experienced symptoms such as acute abdominal and throat pain, burning eyes, severe vomiting, and dizziness. Authorities promptly transported the suspected consumers to nearby hospitals, including the Puducherry Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Chengleput Government Medical College Hospital, and Villupuram Government Medical College Hospital.

The consumers were primarily poor agricultural labourers and fisherfolk. A preliminary investigation revealed that more than 15 people had purchased the brew from Amaran, who regularly supplied the illicit substance. The seller distributed arrack in 200 ml sachets for Rs 30 each, and villagers typically consumed a minimum of half a litre daily. C. Palani, the Villupuram district collector, visited the hospital to oversee the rehabilitation efforts.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs.10 lakh each to the families of the victims and arrived in Villupuram on May 15. After visiting the hospital, he instructed the district administration to provide all necessary medical care to those who were admitted. Later, he informed the media that the case had been transferred to the CB-CID.

C. Sylendra Babu, the Director General of Police, suspended four police personnel in response to the incident. All political parties strongly condemned the occurrence. AIADMK General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami insisted that the Chief Minister resign, citing a failure of law and order in the State.

According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the State recorded 29 hooch-related deaths between 2018 and 2020.

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