India toxic alcohol deaths have risen to 143, after at least 45 more workers died in northeastern India from the latest mass alcohol poisoning.
The deaths in Assam state came less than two weeks after tainted liquor killed around 100 people in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
At least 200 others were still hospitalised across Assam.
“A total of 85 people have died in Golaghat district due to consumption (of toxic alcohol),” Dhiren Hazarika, deputy commissioner of the worst affected region, told AFP.
“Another 100 are undergoing treatment in the district. The rush of new patients has (only) slowed down today afternoon,” he added.
Roshni Korati, deputy commissioner of the neighbouring Jorhat district, told AFP that the death toll in the district had reached 58.
At least 160 people were undergoing treatment at local hospitals and “16 of them are critical”, Korati added.
Police said people started falling sick after consuming a batch of illegally produced liquor late Thursday.
The victims, who include many women, worked at local tea estates in the region.
Doctors said those rushed to hospital in a critical condition were suffering from severe vomiting, extreme chest pain and breathlessness.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered an inquiry into the deaths.
Apart from the arrests, two excise department officials were suspended for failing to take adequate precautions over the sale of the alcohol.
Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma vowed those responsible for the tainted liquor would be brought to justice.