Kallakurichi hooch tragedy: Death toll rises to 39; 120 hospitalised, 24 remain critical

Opposition parties have called for statewide protests demanding CM Stalin to resign; AIADMK moves Madras HC seeking CBI probe.
The bodies of victims who succumbed after consuming illicit liquor cremated in the Karunapuram area of Kallakurichi on Thursday.
The bodies of victims who succumbed after consuming illicit liquor cremated in the Karunapuram area of Kallakurichi on Thursday.Photo | Sriram R, EPS

KALLAKURICHI/CHENNAI: The death toll from the illicit arrack tragedy in Kallakurichi rose to 39 on Thursday, as several victims being treated in various hospitals succumbed to the poisoning without showing signs of improvement. The deceased include 34 men, four women and one transgender person.

At least 120 people are still being treated as inpatients and 24 of them are in critical condition, sources said.

Earlier on Thursday, the bodies of 29 victims were handed over to their families for last rites in the Karunapuram and Kottaimedu areas.

Around 6 pm, about 19 bodies were cremated along the banks of the Gomuki river. The bodies of 10 others were cremated at other crematoriums. More than 2,000 police personnel, drawn from various districts, have been deployed across the district.

Chief Minister MK Stalin announced Rs 10 lakh solatium each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to those undergoing treatment. Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin, who met the victims’ families on Thursday, handed over the aid cheques and assured them of action to curb the sale of hooch.

Stalin said he had directed police to probe the source of methanol, which led to the deaths. "Four people linked to the sale of the ‘poisonous arrack’ have been arrested so far," the CM said in a statement.

The bodies of victims who succumbed after consuming illicit liquor cremated in the Karunapuram area of Kallakurichi on Thursday.
Kallakurichi hooch tragedy: Every street in Karunapuram left with a corpse

Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal, ADGP, Crime, Chennai, holding full additional charge as ADGP, Enforcement Bureau CID, and SR Senthil Kumar, SP, Enforcement, Chennai zone, were transferred out of their posts and asked to report at the office of the Head of Police Force, Chennai.

Home Secretary P Amudha and DGP Shankar Jiwal have been directed to visit Kallakurichi district and file a report within two days.

Meanwhile, AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami has urged the CM to take responsibility for the tragedy and resign from the post. The opposition party will hold a statewide protest on June 24 demanding that the CM step down taking moral responsibility for the tragedy.

Palaniswami also alleged that the DMK government had failed to take action on the wide prevalence of illicit liquor in the district, despite his party’s Kallakurichi MLA M Senthilkumar raising the issue multiple times.

“Senthilkumar alerted the district SP five days ago regarding the rampant sale of illicit liquor. He raised the issue once again with the SP two days ago, but no action was taken,” EPS said.

PMK founder S Ramadoss has called for the resignation of the CM and ministers S Muthusamy and EV Velu. He had sought the support of other parties to defeat DMK in Vikravandi bypoll.

Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai has announced a statewide protest on June 22 over the ‘incompetence’ of the DMK government.

Meanwhile, the AIADMK has filed a PIL in the Madras High Court seeking a CBI probe into the tragedy. The court will take up the matter on Friday.

CB-CID officials have started their probe in Kallakurichi, and about 200 litres of illicit arrack have already been seized.

Health Minister Ma Subramanian and PWD Minister EV Velu are in Kallakurichi to render help to the affected people.

The tragedy comes a year after the death of at least 23 people in Villupuram and Chengalpattu due to spurious liquor.

The bodies of victims who succumbed after consuming illicit liquor cremated in the Karunapuram area of Kallakurichi on Thursday.
Could the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy have been averted?

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