Toxic bootleg brew kills 22 people in India

A villager breaks down along with the children of his brother, who died after drinking toxic liquor, near the cremation area at Tukulipada village in Cuttack district, about 35 kilometers away from the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneshwar, on Feb. 8, 2012. Officials say at least 22 people have died and more are sick after drinking toxic bootleg liquor made from cough medicine in eastern India. A hospital administrator in Orissa state said the farm laborers fell ill in the past two days after drinking the brew. AP Photo/Biswaranjan Rout

BHUBANESWAR, India - Officials say at least 22 people have died and more are sick after drinking toxic bootleg liquor made from cough medicine in eastern India.

A hospital administrator in Orissa state said the farm laborers fell ill in the past two days after drinking the brew. Bhubananda Maharana also said Wednesday that another 31 workers were being treated for symptoms of liquor poisoning.

India's poor often buy cheap bootleg liquor made of syrups and medicines that are spiked with methyl alcohol and other industrial spirits to give it a kick.

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Orissa's top elected official has ordered an inquiry.

Government spokesman S.K. Panda also said two pharmaceutical companies that produced the cough medicine have been sealed.

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