Bhubaneswar: The death toll due to alleged consumption of spurious liquor has risen to 30 in Odisha, but the authorities have held two medicines responsible for the tragedy.
The victims, mostly poor men from Cuttack and Khordha districts, fell ill Tuesday after allegedly taking the drink that contained drugs used to treat cough and cold and to dress wounds.
"One more person died Wednesday night. The death toll increased to 30," Cuttack District Collector SN Girish told a news agency.
He said about 50 people, including three women, were undergoing treatment at Sriram Chandra Bhanja Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack. All of them are stable.
Girish said among the dead was Baidhar Bhoi, the brew seller. He was the first to die Tuesday morning.
Citing preliminary investigation, the state government said the consumption of two medicines, namely Epee-carm and Concentrated Cinnamon, have caused the illness and deaths.
Officials said people from several areas had gone to Tukuliapada village in Cuttack district, 25 km from here, to buy the drink Monday night.
Some people, including scores of brick kiln workers, were hospitalised after buying the same medicines from different chemist shops in both the districts.
While 13 deaths were reported till Tuesday, 17 died Wednesday. Two women also lost their lives. The toll may not rise further as people admitted to the hospitals were recovering, Girish said.
Police launched a crackdown on chemist shops in different parts of the state both Wednesday and Thursday to find out if the medicines were still available.
They also raided the factories of two pharmaceutical companies in Bhubaneswar and sealed them for allegedly supplying the medicines to the hooch kingpin, Bhoi, and to various shops.
Police said two cases have been registered and 10 people have been arrested. They include three relatives of the kingpin and seven officials of the pharmaceutical companies.