Kallakurichi Spurious Liquor: At least 34 Dead, Over 60 Hospitalised; TN CM Stalin Orders Probe, Announces Ex-Gratia

The state government said that a man was arrested and an analysis of about 200 litres of illicit 'arrack' seized from him found the presence of fatal methanol.

L: Visuals from outside Kallakurichi Govt Medical College Hospital | R: Outside Puducherry's JIPMER Hospital. Photo: X/@ANI

At least 34 people died and more than 60 were hospitalised after reportedly consuming illicit liquor in Tamil Nadu's Kallakurichi district, officials said.

Authorities expressed concerns over the fear of death toll, which is likely to go up. Kallakurichi District Collector MS Prasanth visited the Government Medical College Hospital to meet those undergoing treatment.

The state government, meanwhile, said that one K Kannukutti (49) had been arrested and an analysis of about 200 litres of illicit 'arrack' seized from him found the presence of fatal methanol.

Chief Minister MK Stalin ordered a CB-CID probe to ensure comprehensive investigation and transferred Kallakurichi District Collector Sravan Kumar Jatavath, appointing MS Prasanth in is place.

Stalin also announced Rs 10 lakh each for the family of deceased and Rs 50,000 for the people undergoing treatment.

A one-person commission for former judge Justice B Gokuldas has been trusted with probing the matter. He has to submit the report of the matter within three months.

Superintendent of Police Samay Singh Meena and was also suspended and Rajath Chaturvedi was appointed as the new Kallakurichi SP. At least eight other police personnel including those from Kallakurichi's prohibition wing were placed under suspension.

In a post on X, the Tamil Nadu CM expressed grief over the deaths and said, "Those involved in the crime have been arrested in this matter. Action has also been taken against the officials who failed to prevent it."

"Immediate action will be taken if the public informs about those involved in such crimes," he added. Stalin vowed to crush such crimes with an "iron fist".

Governor RN Ravi said he was shocked by the incident and expressed "serious concern" over the continued lapses in preventing the existence of illicit liquor.

The state Raj Bhavan posted on X saying, "Deeply shocked at the reported loss of lives due to consumption of illicit liquor in Kallakurichi. Many more victims are in serious condition battling for lives. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and prayers for speedy recovery of those in hospitals."

"Every now and then tragic loss of lives due to consumption of illicit liquors are reported from various parts of our state. This reflects continuing lapses in preventing production and consumption of illicit liquor. This is a matter of serious concern," Ravi said.

Amid the tragic incident, the All Indian Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) slammed the ruling Stalin-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) over the matter.

Leader of Opposition, Eddapadi K Palaniswami said, "Deaths due to illicit arrack consumption is continuing ever since the DMK regime took over and I have been raising the issue and seeking action in the State Assembly as well." He also demanded that the state government take stringent action on the issue.

"Precious lives of poor people have been lost in Kallakurichi," the former CM said.

Notably, the bodies of the deceased have been sent for post-mortem and the actual cause of death will be revealed after the completion of the autopsy.

BJP state President K Annamalai said that it was "heart-wrenching to see the parents cry out of the pain of losing their child and wife losing her husband to the consumption of illicit liquor".

He also hit out at the state government and said the DMK had not learnt its lesson after the 22 hooch deaths last year. "There is zero accountability in the DMK government and ministers do not fear consequences for posing with illicit liquor sellers," Annamalai said in a post on X.

In view of the situation, special teams of government doctors from Villupuram, Thiruvannamalai and Salem have been rushed to the Kallakurichi hospital, along with requisite medicine, to provide assistance and oversee the treatment. Reportedly, a senior official from the Health department has also been deployed to supervise the matter.

Notably, a total of 18 persons were referred to Puducherry's renowned JIPMER hospital for special treatment while six other were sent to the Salem government hospital.

CM Stalin urged senior Ministers EV Velu and Ma Subramanian to go to Kallakurichi and provide all necessary assistance to the affected families.

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) leader S Ramadoss demanded that Stalin take up responsibility for the lost lives, alleging that the police department and the government is unable to rein in the sale of illicit liquor.

Ramadoss urged the state government to provide Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the kin of the deceased.

(With inputs from agencies)