Toxic hooch has killed at least 37 people in the eastern Indian state of Bihar where alcohol is banned, officials said on Saturday, with unconfirmed reports putting the death toll at over 70.

Selling and consuming liquor is banned in several parts of India, driving a thriving black market for potent and sometimes lethal backstreet moonshine that kills hundreds every year.

Families of the victims in the latest tragedy said that people from several villages drank a locally made tipple known as “Mahua” or “Desi Daru” on Monday at a wedding and other events.

Many then complained of stomach pain and vision loss and started vomiting.

By Thursday more 20 people were dead and on Saturday around a dozen were in hospital in critical condition.

“More than two dozen people have lost lives in the last 48 hours,” a police official told AFP, saying that 37 people had died so far.

He was unable to confirm some local media reports that 71 people had died. Police have detained more than 100 people in connection with illegal manufacturing and selling liquor in the last three days, while 600 litres of hooch have been seized.

Local authorities have been trumpeting their use of drones, helicopters and motorboats to crack down on the black market, but the most recent incident is just the latest in a string of similar deadly cases.

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