More than 60 people have died after drinking toxic bootleg alcohol in the Indian state of Punjab, officials and reports said.

The victims died in three districts of the northern state and police have arrested 10 people, the officials said.

Hundreds of people die every year in India from poisoned alcohol made in backstreet distilleries which sells for as little as 10 rupees (13 US cents) a liter.

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An official told AFP that 11 people had died in Gurdaspur district. Press Trust of India news agency and other media said Saturday the illicit booze had claimed 53 lives in neighboring Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts.

Other deaths were suspected in recent days but could not be proved as the bodies had been cremated without a post-mortem examination.

Punjab state chief minister Amarinder Singh said Friday he had ordered a special inquiry into the deaths and “anyone found guilty will not be spared.”

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The Indian Express newspaper said one of the suspects had died in Amritsar district after consuming the illegal liquor and that his wife had been arrested for selling the alcohol.

The case came after authorities in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh said on Friday that nine people had died after drinking alcohol-based sanitizer.

The victims drank the sanitizer as a substitute for alcohol which has been restricted during a coronavirus lockdown in India.

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Last Update: Saturday, 01 August 2020 KSA 17:51 – GMT 14:51