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Nine die in India from consuming sanitiser amid liquor store closure

The group turned to hand sanitiser "as a substitute" for liquor when authorities ordered a lockdown of the Kurichedu town

August 01, 2020
People shop at a market ahead of ´Vara Mahalakshmi Vratha´, a Hindu ritual held to appease the Goddess of wealth and prosperity Lakshmi, in Bangalore on July 29, 2020. The ritual is celebrated by Hindus in South India as a festival on the first Friday in the month of ´Shravana´ according to the Hindu calendar on July 31. — AFP/Manjunath Kiran

NEW DELHI: Nine people have died in India from drinking alcohol-based hand sanitiser after liquor shops in their town were closed due to virus restrictions, police said Friday.

The group lost consciousness after consuming a "high quantity" of hand sanitiser mixed with water or soda, Siddharth Kaushal, police superintendent for Kurichedu town in Andhra Pradesh state told AFP.

They were rushed to hospital but declared dead on arrival, he said.

The group turned to hand sanitiser "as a substitute" for liquor after supplies were cut off when authorities ordered a lockdown of the town to combat the coronavirus, he added.

An investigation into the nine deaths has been launched, he said.

Hundreds of poor people die every year in India due to alcohol poisoning, mostly from consuming cheap hooch.

Bootleggers often add methanol — a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze or fuel — to their home-brew liquor to increase the alcoholic content.

The deaths in Kurichedu occurred shortly before India´s coronavirus death toll passed 35,000 on Friday, overtaking that of Italy.

Total infections in the world's second-most populous country are now 1.63 million, surpassed only by the US and Brazil, both of which have much smaller populations.