ONGOLE: Eleven people, including three beggars, died in Kurichedu town in Prakasam district since Thursday night, and of them, nine died on Friday morning, allegedly after consuming sanitiser as they could not get liquor. One person is battling for life in hospital.
On Thursday night, a beggar staying near Poleramma Temple in Kurichedu collapsed and died, and shortly thereafter, another beggar collapsed. Alerted by locals, the staff of 108 shifted him to a government hospital in Darsi, where he was declared brought dead.
On the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, 10 people near the temple complained of stomachache and were rushed to Darsi hospital, where nine of them died on Friday morning. Most of them were daily wage labourers addicted to liquor.
Darsi DSP K Prakash Rao said one B Srinu, a porter who was undergoing treatment, said the affected persons had been consuming sanitiser for the past week as they could not get liquor. Srinu is said to be in a critical condition. Kurichedu and Darsi have been declared containment zones in view of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. As a result, liquor shops in the region were shut for the past week.
"We have spoken to the victims’ relatives, and they confirmed that sanitiser was consumed in the absence of liquor. We have also seized used and unused bottles of sanitiser from their houses," DSP Prakash Rao said.
Prakasam District SP Siddharth Kaushal visited Kurichedu and Darsi to inquire about the incident. He ruled out adulterated liquor as the cause of the deaths. "We concluded that they died by consuming sanitiser, which they mixed with water or soft drinks. Sanitiser being sold in the area has been seized and sent for chemical tests," he told TNIE.
The Darsi and Kurichedu police have registered cases, and and investigation is on. Darsi MLA Maddisetti Venugopal visited the victims' families and promised to help them.
TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu blamed the YSRC government for the deaths and demanded that all possible assistance be given to the kin of the deceased. He said that in the past 14 months, there has been a sudden spike in the number of deaths involving consumption of spurious liquor.
He blamed the government for hiking liquor prices by 300 per cent, and said people are dying by consuming country-made arrack, spurious liquor and sanitiser.
BJP state president Somu Veerraju demanded that the state government order an enquiry into the incident and take stern action. Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan also condoled the deaths and asked the government to act tough against the sale of country-made liquor. He demanded a probe into the deaths.
The deceased were identified as Kotagiri Ramanayya, 45, a beggar from Banaganapalli in Kurnool district; Kadiyam Ramanaiah, 27; Guntaka RamiReddy, 57; Madugula Charles, 36, a rickshaw puller; Raja Reddy, 65, a beggar from Hyderabad; Anugonda Srinu, 30; Bhogyam Tirupataiah, 35; Shaik Saida, 30; K Augustin, 42; Pallepogu Dasu, 65; and an unidentified 45-year-old beggar.