Bhubaneswar, Oct 18 (UNI) Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today directed the state Excise Commissioner to rush and probe into the deaths of seven people at Motelguda village of Malkangiri district yesterday.
As many 12 people were taken ill after they consumed 'Pendam', a local brew, prepared from rice at a function to mark the ''Nuakhai'' (the beginning of the harvest season).
Official sources said that out of seven tribal people, five died on the spot and two on the way to hospital. Three others were admitted to Malkangiri district headquarters hospital in serious condition.
Police said condition of one of the three was critical.
All the victims belonged to the Koya tribe.
The sources said both the Excise and police officials have already inquired into the incident after State Excise Minister Devi Prasad Mishra ordered an investigation into the matter.
According to preliminary reports, the victims had mixed roots and leaves of some shrubs with Pendam to make it harder and tasty.
Somehow, the food became contaminated leading to the deaths.
The Excise Minister had apprised the Chief Minister about the incident, who in turn directed the Excise Commissioner to inquire into the deaths. The Excise Commissioner has been asked to submit a report to the Government soon.
Meanwhile, the police have also registered a case and inquiring into the incident, the sources said.