Toxic bootleg liquor made with cough medicine kills at least 22 in eastern India, sickens 31

BHUBANESWAR, India , February 8, 2012 () – Officials say at least 22 people have died and more are sick after drinking toxic bootleg liquor made from cough medicine in eastern India.

A hospital administrator in Orissa state said the farm laborers fell ill in the past two days after drinking the brew. Bhubananda Maharana also said Wednesday that another 31 workers were being treated for symptoms of liquor poisoning.

India's poor often buy cheap bootleg liquor made of syrups and medicines that are spiked with methyl alcohol and other industrial spirits to give it a kick.

Orissa's top elected official has ordered an inquiry.

Government spokesman S.K. Panda also said two pharmaceutical companies that produced the cough medicine have been sealed.

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