LAHORE, Pakistan — A toxic homemade Christmas liquor killed at least 23 people, mostly from Pakistan’s Christian minority community, and made dozens sick, police said on Tuesday.
‘”The men who belong to the Christian community drank liquor on the night of 25 December and went home. Tragedy struck the next morning when many did not rise from their beds, while others got sick,” said Police officer Mohammad Nadeem.
At least 45 people were treated for poisoning in hospitals in Toba Tek Singh and Faisalabad after drinking the moonshine in the mostly Christian town of Toba Tek Singh, Punjab province, about 315 km (195 miles) south of Islamabad.
“The maker and supplier of the toxic liquor is also included among the dead,” senior police official Bilal Kamyana told Reuters. “The maker prepared liquor at home and sold it in polythene bags for 500 rupees (about $5) each.”
Meanwhile, authorities have formed an inquiry committee to probe the tragedy.
Deaths from tainted liquor, often home-brewed, occur periodically in Muslim-majority Pakistan, often around religious festivals. In March, 45 people, including 35 Hindus, had died after consuming spurious liquor during Holi celebrations in Sindh province.
It is illegal for Muslims to buy or consume alcohol in the country, and minorities need permits to buy it in restricted quantities.
Christians make up about 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s 190 million people, with most living in Punjab.
Crux Staff contributed to the reporting.