Lured by dirt-cheap alcohol, the victims of the Malwani hooch tragedy ended up paying the highest cost of all – the toxic booze has claimed 64 lives so far, while another 85 people are under treatment.

As of Thursday night, the death toll stood at 15 on Thursday night but escalated quickly yesterday, after 40 to 50 more people were admitted to different hospitals with the same complaints of stomach ache, breathlessness and vision problems.

Police sources revealed that the liquor was sold as cheap as Rs 20-30, making it an attractive option for alcoholics. A doctor at Shatabdi Hospital where 40-odd patients were admitted last morning said on condition of anonymity, “The alcohol had toxic methanol mixed in it.

This got absorbed in the patients’ blood and caused symptoms such as blindness and in some cases, resulted in death.” Experts are of the opinion that the best course of treatment is dialysis, for which several victims were moved to Nair and KEM hospitals.

Meanwhile, the families of the deceased lamented the fact that their loved ones would buy the spurious liquor for just Rs 20-30 and drink it every night, never thinking about the consequences. “My husband, Ramesh was an alcoholic and he would drink daily. He told me he bought the alcohol for just Rs 30 from a person called Akka in Malwani.

This drink killed my husband. On Wednesday his stomach began to hurt and he started vomiting. I admitted him in the hospital but could not save him,” said Malwani resident Pooja Ingle.

Another distressed family member, Varsha Yadav told mid-day, “My husband Vinod and I had a love marriage I 2005 and have two kids aged 8 and 9. On Wednesday, I told my husband not to drink but he fought with me and went out anyway. The next morning, he started vomiting. I took hi to the hospital, where he was declared dead.”