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Tuesday, 22 March 2016
Pakistan illegal alcohol leaves 24 dead from poisoning
At least 24 people in southern Pakistan have died from poisoning after drinking illegally-made alcohol, police say.
A number of others are in hospital after Monday's incident in Sindh province. At least two of those who died were women.
Most of the victims were from the country's Hindu minority, although some were Muslims, reports said.
Muslims are forbidden from buying or drinking alcohol in Pakistan - and minorities need a permit to buy liquor.
However, many people illegally brew alcohol at home, and there have been several cases of mass poisonings in the past - in 2014 some 40 people died within a few days as a result of drinking tainted alcohol in Sindh.
Angry residents from Tando Muhammad Khan district blocked a road in protest at the latest deaths, accusing police of turning a blind eye to illegal alcohol sales.
Local police chief, Rustam Wani, told the BBC that "around 30 people passed out after drinking at an illegal winery in Karimabad area" of Tando Mohammad Khan on Monday night.
"They were taken to a hospital in town, and some were shifted to another hospital in Hyderabad city."
The person suspected of making the liquor had fled, but four others had been detained, police said.
Several local police officers in Tando Muhammad Khan district have been suspended for alleged negligence.
Distilling alcohol safely requires a precise control of the temperature, because if that rises above a certain level then methyl alcohol can form.
Sometimes, certain herbs or chemicals might be added to increase the strength or improve the flavour, and these can react badly with other chemicals.
Hundreds of people have also died in mass alcohol poisoning incidents in neighbouring India in recent years.