30 die in Pakistan after drinking tainted liquor at Xmas party


Islamabad, Thirty people, most of them Christians, died and 60 more fell sick after drinking moonshine served at a Christmas party near Toba Tek Singh in Pakistan’s Punjab province, officials said on Tuesday.

Dozens of people attended the party in Mubarakabad area on Saturday, when guests drank illegally brewed tainted alcohol after a Christmas cake was cut. Soon after, many people started vomiting and were rushed to the nearby district headquarters hospital. Doctors pronounced at least seven men dead on arrival.

Some people in a serious condition were shifted to a hospital in Faisalabad, where several more died. About 20 people were admitted to different hospitals in Toba Tek Singh and officials said six were in a critical condition.

Many of the dead were related to each other. At least two Muslims were among the dead, a police official said. Police arrested a father-son duo for brewing the tainted liquor and authorities formed a committee to probe the incident.

Police officials said most Christian communities brew their own alcohol in the absence of cheap alternatives and, in some instances, the liquor becomes toxic.

Alcohol was prohibited in Muslim-majority Pakistan in 1977, but laws allow non-Muslims to purchase liquor from licensed shops.

In March, 45 people, including 35 Hindus, died after drinking tainted alcohol during Holi celebrations in Sindh province.