11 people in Mahottari reportedly died of consuming toxic alcohol in five daysAuthorities have collected and sent their viscera samples to the forensic science laboratory in Kathmandu for tests.
Authorities on Friday collected the viscera of 11 people who died in two adjoining settlements of Mahottari district in the past five days. The deceased, aged 26 to 55, reportedly died of consuming toxic moonshine at Meghnath Gorhanna settlement of Bhangaha Municipality and Ahiman village of Bardibas Municipality.
“The viscera samples were collected and sent to the forensic science laboratory of Nepal Police in Kathmandu to be tested. The report will confirm the cause behind the death of the 11 people,” said Dhiraj Pratap Singh, the deputy inspector general of police at Province 2. Security personnel have started monitoring the production, sale and consumption of locally brewed alcohol in the region.
On Saturday, Palat Sah, 48, and 55-year-old Motilal Prajapati, an Indian national, died at Ward No. 6 of Bhangaha. According to the locals, they had consumed alcohol the previous day and died after they suffered from stomach ache, diarrhoea and vomiting.
The bodies of five people who had died in the two settlements on Tuesday and Wednesday were cremated before the police could take them to a hospital for postmortem. The villagers performed their final rites thinking they had died of natural causes.
However, as more people started dying, security personnel intervened and took the bodies of two persons who died on Thursday to Jaleshwor Hospital for postmortem.
“The villagers did not inform us at first, thinking those men had died of natural causes. However, as more death reports came forward, we took the bodies to a hospital for postmortem,” said DIG Singh.
All the deceased were from impoverished families who were hit hardest by the lockdown enforced to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19.
According to Shyam Krishna Adhikari, the superintendent of police in Mahottari, preliminary investigation shows that the deceased had excessively consumed alcohol before their deaths.
“Detailed investigation is underway to find other possible causes as well,” he said. The Mahottari Police has also collected the sample of the locally brewed alcohol from the settlements for laboratory tests.
The people’s representatives of the local units also suspect toxic moonshine to be the cause behind the deaths.
“The deceased people were found to be fine the previous day. They had excessively consumed alcohol before they went to bed,” said Sanjib Sah, mayor of Bhangaha Municipality.
With the death of 11 people in the past five days, the locals are in abject terror as they suspect coronavirus to be the cause of the deaths. They have demanded authorities to conduct Covid-19 tests in their locality.
On Saturday, a team of health officials conducted rapid diagnostic tests of two people for coronavirus, but both the reports came negative. The team also collected their nasal swab for PCR test.
“The villagers were fearful about a possible outbreak of coronavirus, but the reports were negative. The rapid tests of the bodies taken to the hospital for postmortem were also negative,” said Adhikari.
The local administration on Saturday dispatched health teams in the affected settlements. Federal Education Minister Girirajmani Pokharel also visited the area on Friday and Saturday and inquired about the situation.
The production, sale and consumption of illegally brewed alcohol are unchecked in Province 2. Incidents of death caused by toxic hooch are frequent in various districts of the province. As many as 15 people died after consuming toxic alcohol in Ramdaiya of Dhanusha district in March.