Death toll reportedly caused by consuming toxic moonshine in Mahottari reaches 12Three health teams have been dispatched to provide treatment and find possible cause behind the deaths.
The death toll reportedly caused by the consumption of toxic moonshine in two adjoining settlements of Mahottari district reached 12 on Sunday. Rupnarayan Singh Danuwar of Bhangaha Municipality Ward No. 7 died on Sunday morning.
Authorities have dispatched three health teams in the affected area after the reported deaths at Meghnath Gorhanna settlement of Bhangaha and Ahiman village of Bardibas Municipality in the past six days. Health workers, security officers and the people’s representatives suspect that the victims might have died of consuming excessive hooch. However, the cause of the death will be confirmed only after the viscera test report comes out.
Authorities had collected the viscera samples of the deceased and sent them to the forensic science laboratory of Nepal Police in Kathmandu to be tested on Friday.
“We are waiting for the viscera report. All the deceased had drunk locally brewed alcohol and had suffered from similar health complications before dying. We are looking into other possible reasons behind the deaths as well,” Girendra Jha, the health officer at the district public health office in Mahottari, told the Post.
All the deceased had similar complaints—stomach ache, diarrhoea and vomiting. Two other locals with similar symptoms are receiving treatment at the Janakpur-based Provincial Hospital.
Health teams from the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division under the federal health ministry, BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan and the District Public Health Office in Mahottari reached the site to probe the cause behind the deaths. They also examined the health of the deceased’s family members and their neighbours in both the settlements.
“We are inquiring with the deceased’s family members on what they had consumed before their deaths and the health symptoms they showed,” said Dr Amrit Pokharel of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division. The lab report will confirm the cause of the death, he added.
With the death of 12 people since Tuesday, the locals have demanded authorities to conduct Covid-19 tests on the settlements’ residents, as they suspect coronavirus to be the cause behind the deaths.
On Saturday, a team of health officials conducted rapid diagnostic tests on two of the 12 dead brought to the district hospital for postmortem; both the reports came negative. The team has also collected their nasal swab to conduct a test through the Polymerase Chain Reaction method.
Shyamkrishna Adhikari, the superintendent of police in Mahottari, said, “We have been informed that the viscera, PCR and postmortem reports will come by Monday.”
Eight of the deceased are from Meghnath Gorhanna settlement in Bhangaha and four others from Ahiman.
“The deceased first complained of abdominal ache followed by diarrhoea and vomiting. They died on their way to nearby health institutions,” said Sanjib Sah, mayor of Bhangaha.
All the deceased were from impoverished families who were hit hardest by the lockdown enforced to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19. On Sunday, the Mahottari Police informed the Province 2 government about its preliminary investigation. According to Adhikari, most of the deceased had only eaten chiura (beaten rice) before consuming alcohol in excess. The investigation found that the deceased had bought hooch from a local liquor shop. Police have also collected the sample of the alcohol consumed by the deceased for testing.