At least 10 people died in Karichedu mandal area after allegedly consuming alcohol-based hand sanitiser in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. While seven persons died Friday morning, three died over the past two days at Darsi Government Hospital where they were admitted after complaints of severe stomach ache and vomiting.
The police, who visited the area on Tuesday, found sanitisers in at least 20 houses. “At least 10 people have died so far in the last three days. We found empty as well as unopened sanitiser bottles in these houses. Family members confirmed that the victims were consuming it in place of liquor. Most of the deceased are daily-wage labourers and beggars. We have seized some stock of sanitisers from some shops while those with medical shops would be examined for chemical contents. Apart from the post-mortem report, we have also sought a toxicology report to ascertain what exactly happened,” Prakasam District SP Siddharth Kaushal said.
The police said the deceased had been gathering behind a temple in the town to consume sanitisers, either mixed with water or soft drinks for the past 8-10 days. On Wednesday night, one P Srinu complained of severe stomach ache and collapsed. He was rushed to the Darsi Government Hospital where he told police, who were investigating the death of a beggar from the previous night, that he and others were consuming sanitiser since several days. On Thursday night, two others collapsed and died shortly after being brought to hospital. Srinu also died Thursday night. On Friday morning, seven persons succumbed at the hospital.
Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has sought a report from police and district collector. Deputy SP Prakash Rao said that initially police thought they had consumed illegally brewed liquor.
Kurichedu is currently under lockdown due to spurt in coronavirus cases and as such the liquor vends are also shut for the past few days. Habitual tipplers, however, were said to be consuming sanitiser that has alcohol content, apart from illicitly distilled arrack.
Darsi MLA M Venugopal said, “Owing to reduction in the number of alcohol shops as per government policy and closure of some shops due to the Covid-19 situation and containment zones, liquor is not available. Some people, including several beggars, purchased sanitisers and consumed it. While some fell ill and passed away, a few have been moved to hospital where they are recovering. We are appealing to people to join rehabilitation centres,”said Venugopal, who visited the families of some of the victims, today.