India's Methanol Laced bootleg alcohol death toll rises to nearly 100

A bootleg alcohol scandal in the Northern state of Punjab has seen the death toll rise to 98 in the last few days.

The local police force have managed to arrest 25 people in connection with the illegal production of the toxic alcohol so far.

They said this is the latest case in a long line, as it is not uncommon in India for backstreet distilleries to make and sell the alcohol for as little as 10 rupees (13 US Cents) a litre. Thus meaning even the poorest of people can afford to buy and drink it.

Actual death figures are hard to come by as some families will not declare that as the cause of death of their loved ones in fear of being arrested.

The state chief minister for Punjab, Amarinda Singh, said on Friday that” he has started a specialist inquiry into these deaths and that anyone found guilty would not be spared.”  It is estimated that 5 billion litres of alcohol are drunk every year in India. Around 40% of this figure is illegally produced spirits with the bootleggers adding methanol. A highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes found in anti-freeze, to increase the strength of the drink.

In 2015 more than 100 people died in a Mumbai slum are drinking an illegal batch of alcohol.

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