Pakistan homemade liquor death toll climbs to 27

 Six more people have died from alcohol poisoning after consuming homemade liquor in Pakistan`s Karachi over the Eid public holidays, bringing the total to 27 -- the highest recorded toll in seven years, a hospital official said Thursday.

Islamabad: Six more people have died from alcohol poisoning after consuming homemade liquor in Pakistan`s Karachi over the Eid public holidays, bringing the total to 27 -- the highest recorded toll in seven years, a hospital official said Thursday.

The toll has jumped since the first deaths were reported on Tuesday, with residents of the low-income Landhi and Korangi neighbourhoods of the southern city mainly affected. The incidents highlight the proliferation of low-grade liquor in the Islamic country, which officially bars Muslims from drinking.

"The death toll from toxic liquor has risen to 27, while 26 others were being treated at the hospital," Seemi Jamali, a senior doctor and spokeswoman for Karachi`s Jinnah Hospital, told AFP.

Police have conducted raids at illegal liquor factories, arrested three suspects and seized a quantity of "katchi sharab" (home made liquor), officials said on Wednesday.

Though legal breweries exist in Pakistan, the sale of alcohol and its consumption is prohibited for Muslims and tightly regulated for minorities and foreigners.

While higher income Pakistanis buy bootlegged higher grade alcohol at heavily inflated prices, the poor often resort to home-brews that can contain methanol, commonly used in anti-freeze and fuel.

Consumption of methanol can lead to blindness, liver damage and death. In 2007, 40 people were killed in Karachi after drinking contaminated liquor.