Toxic hooch has killed at least 27 people in the eastern Indian state of Bihar where alcohol is banned, officials said Tuesday, with unconfirmed reports putting the death toll at 40.
Selling and consuming liquor is prohibited in several parts of India, driving a thriving black market for potent and sometimes lethal backstreet moonshine that kills hundreds every year, reports AFP.
Initial investigations into the latest tragedy showed that poisonous methyl alcohol was mixed with spirit that proved deadly.
Police official Jitender Kumar told AFP that 27 deaths had been reported since Saturday.
Kumar said most of the victims were from poor families and used to consume locally made cheap tipple known as "Desi Daru".
Some local media put the toll at 40.
Police have arrested 174 people in connection with illegal manufacturing, sale and supply of liquor over the last three days.
They have also seized and destroyed over 900 litres (240 gallons) of toxic liquor during raids.
Local authorities have been using drones, helicopters and motorboats to crack down on the black market, but the most recent incident is just the latest in a string of similar deadly cases.
Last year in December, 37 people were killed after consuming illicit liquor in the same state.