At least ten alcohol addicts, including three beggars, died after allegedly consuming sanitiser as an alternative to liquor in a village under COVID-19 lockdown in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, police said on Friday.
The victims of Kurichedu village had been drinking sanitiser for the past few days, mixing it with water and soft drinks, Prakasam district Superintendent of Police Siddharth Kaushal told PTI over phone.
Two people died on Thursday night and the other eight since Friday morning, the SP, who visited the village where liquor outlets are also closed for the past few days due to extended COVID-19 lockdown, said.
"We are investigating whether the sanitiser had any other toxic content. We have sent the stocks for chemical analysis," Kaushal said.
The SP said illicitly-distilled arrack was not involved in the 'sad incident'.
The deceased were highly addicted to alcohol and its non-availability due to extended Covid-19 lockdown in Kurichedu forced them to go for sanitiser that had alcoholic content, police said.
Apart from the beggars, the other deceased were poor rickshaw pullers and hamalis, who had a hand-to-mouth existence.
Two beggars near a temple were the first to fall victim on Thursday night.
While one of them was found dead at the spot, another died in the government hospital in nearby Darsi town, police said.
A third person was also taken to the Darsi hospital late on Thursday night after he fainted, but declared brought dead.
Another seven seven, who fell ill after allegedly consuming sanitiser, succumbed on Friday.
A couple of other persons, who also complained of some health problems after drinking sanitiser, were undergoing treatment and out of danger, the police added.
There have been isolated incidents of habitual tipplers taking ill and even succumbing after consuming sanitisers in some parts of the country since the nation-wide lockdown came into force following non-availablity of liquor.