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Liquor Blamed in India Deaths

February 15, 2001

BHUBANESHWAR, India (AP) _ Nine people who drank homemade liquor purchased from an unlicensed shop in eastern India died and six others were hospitalized, officials said Thursday.

The dead were residents of a slum in the sacred Hindu town of Puri in Orissa state. They died late Wednesday and early Thursday in a government hospital, said Pramod Kumar Mohanty, the chief administrator of Puri.

Puri, famous for the 12th century Jagannath temple, is located about 35 miles outside Bhubaneswar, the state capital.

Police have arrested Ram Chandra Patnaik, who sold the alcohol, and two of his associates, and are looking for others who may be selling illegal liquor.

Most Indian states allow the sale of alcohol through licensed dealers subjected to quality controls. But there are thousands of unlicensed outlets selling homemade liquor to poor people. Quality control in such outlets is nonexistent and several hundred people die every year from drinking contaminated alcohol.

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