Patna: At least 13 people died overnight under mysterious circumstances in Gopalganj district of Bihar. The administration on Wednesday morning ordered a probe after families claimed it to be a hooch tragedy, police said.
Five others were in critical conditions at a government hospital, the police said.
All the victims were residents of Nonia tola locality and from the poorest section of the society, it said.
According to the families, the deceased had complained of uneasiness and breathlessness, followed by stomach pain and vomiting, after they consumed "desi" alcohol on Tuesday evening.
Their condition deteriorated on Tuesday night and later they died in the hospital, the police said.
Rahul Kumar, Gopalganj district Magistrate, constituted a three-member team and ordered a probe into the incident.
"It is too early to say anything about the exact cause of the deaths," Kumar said.
However, Gopalganj Superintendent of Police Ravi Ranjan has refuted the rumours of spurious liquor consumption.
"It is a matter of coincidence that they died one after another in a span of few hours," Ranjan said.
The incident has exposed that despite total prohibition on liquor consumption in Bihar since 5 April this year, alcohol is available in black.
Additional Director General of Police Sunil Kumar said at least 4,707 people were arrested during the last four months and 3,719 FIRs were lodged in connection with flouting of the liquor ban.