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Assam hooch tragedy toll rises to 140, health minister says toll changing 'every minute'

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Guwahati, Feb 24: The death toll in Assam's hooch tragedy has shot up to 140, while 331 people are undergoing treatment in hospitals on Sunday.

Photo credit: PTI

The incident took place on Thursday evening when the workers at Salmara tea garden had consumed the liquor. The deaths come less than two weeks after more than 100 people died from drinking spurious alcohol in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

The police have so far arrested 12 people, including the owners of the illegal country-made liquor factory, in Jugibaari area near the garden.

Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the "death toll and the number of people admitted is changing minute to minute".

A large number of labourers of two tea estates of Golaghat and Jorhat districts had fallen ill after drinking spurious liquor on Thursday night and 12 of them had died the same night.

Sonowal announced a monetary compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those who fell ill.

He also ordered an inquiry into the incident by Upper Assam Division Commissioner Julie Sonowal on Friday and directed her to submit the report within a month.

Doctors from Assam Medical College Hospital of Dibrugarh district, Gauhati Medical College Hospital and Tezpur Medical College Hospital in Sonitpur district have been rushed to the Jorhat and Golaghat hospitals to provide medical care, Sarma said.

Besides, the Director of Medical Education Anup Barman, directors of Health, Assam and the National Rural Health Mission will be stationed in Jorhat to supervise and coordinate services being provided to patients, the minister had said on Saturday.

This is the second major hooch tragedy in the country within a fortnight. At least 70 people had died in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand after drinking spurious liquor earlier this month.

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