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84 killed by tainted alcohol

The death toll from drinking tainted alcohol in a Mumbai slum climbed to 84 in the worst incident of its kind in more than a decade, police said today.

Another 31 people, 13 of them in a serious condition, were being treated in hospitals after drinking the cheap alcohol Wednesday night in Malad, said deputy commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni.

They fell sick immediately. Malad is a northern part of India's financial capital.

Kulkarni said the police have arrested five people who transported and sold the tainted alcohol to poor workers.

The Press Trust of India news agency said eight police personnel have been suspended for negligence of duty.

In 2004, 104 people had died after drinking spurious alcohol in Mumbai's Vikhroli area.

Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in India because the poor cannot afford licensed alcohol. Illicit alcohol is often spiked with chemicals such as pesticides to increase its potency.

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