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Toll in Bengal hooch tragedy rises to 80

At least 80 people have died and more than 100 hospitalised after consuming spurious liquor in a West Bengal village, an official said Thursday, a day after people started vomiting and showing other symptoms of poisoning.

The tragedy took place in Sangrampur village in South Parganas-24 district near the state capital Kolkata.

Official sources said that more people have been admitted to hospitals since Wednesday evening. Patients were coming even Thursday morning and the toll is likely to go much higher, they said.

"Eighty people have died so far. Over 100 are admitted in hospitals," South Parganas-24 District Magistrate N.S. Nigam told IANS.

The chemical mixed in the liquor has not yet been identified, Nigam added. The opposition Left Front will bring out a condolence rally in Sangrampur Thursday. Four people have been arrested for supplying the moonshine in the village.

A district health official said the victims died of cardio-respiratory failure due to methyl poisoning. Those taken ill have been admitted to the Diamond Harbour Hospital, health centres and nursing homes. Some have been shifted to Kolkata.

The tragedy occurred when the villagers consumed country liquor Tuesday night in dens near Sangrampur railway station, Nigam said.

"From around 2 a.m. Wednesday, people started vomiting, had loose motions and complained of serious stomach pain," said a Sangrampur resident. Locals said quite a few people who didn't even come to the hospital have also died.

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