The death toll due to the consumption of adulterated alcohol in northeastern India increased to 155 on Monday while more than 200 people remain hospitalized, an official said.
Most of the victims were tea-plantation workers who consumed homemade liquor on Thursday evening during a celebratory event in the district of Golaghat in Assam state of the far northeastern part of the Asian country.
"There are still more than 200 people hospitalized, but they are on the way to being discharged as they are recovering," Additional Director General of Assam's Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agrawal told EFE.
So far, Indian authorities have arrested 41 people who were allegedly linked to the manufacturing and selling of spurious alcohol in the region.
Golaghat district's Deputy Commissioner Dhiren Hazarika told EFE on Sunday that the liquor had been transported in containers that may have been used for carrying insecticides in the past, possibly causing the tragedy.
But a postmortem report would confirm what caused the deaths, the commissioner said.
Hazarika said that the vendor of the liquor in Golaghat's tea plantation and his mother had also died after drinking the alcohol.
The apparent poisoning comes around two weeks after over 100 people died from consuming adulterated alcohol in northern India, where authorities have arrested some 300 people for their alleged involvement in making and selling the poisonous liquor.
The number of victims in the Assam tragedy has now exceeded the one in December 2011 in the eastern state of West Bengal, where more than 130 people lost their lives after drinking alcohol acquired near a railway station.
The consumption of illegal and adulterated alcohol tends to occur in areas of rural India, with people drawn to it because of its cheap price tag.
The poor, mainly the laborers, farmers and rickshaw pullers, often drink country-made liquor which is cheaper than alcohol bought from licensed shops.
Alcohol that is legally available in India can be relatively very expensive.
But cheap alcohol is often manufactured in such a way that it may contain substances that prove harmful to the health of its drinkers.