Home-made liquor kills 21 during Pakistan Eid celebrations

Pakistani paramedics shift a liquor victim to a hospital in Karachi on Oct 8, 2014. Twenty-one people in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi have died after drinking home-made liquor during Eid holidays, officials said, highlighting the dangers of
Pakistani paramedics shift a liquor victim to a hospital in Karachi on Oct 8, 2014. Twenty-one people in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi have died after drinking home-made liquor during Eid holidays, officials said, highlighting the dangers of moonshine in a country where Muslims are barred from drinking. -- PHOTO: AFP 

KARACHI (AFP) - Pakistani officials said Wednesday that 21 people in the city of Karachi had died after drinking home-made liquor during the Eid holidays, highlighting the dangers of moonshine in a country where Muslims are barred from drinking.

The deaths occurred in the low-income Landhi and Korangi neighbourhoods of the southern city. The majority of the victims were Muslims celebrating the three-day public holiday over Eid ul-Adha.

"Since last (Tuesday) night 21 people have died after consuming toxic liquor," Seemi Jamali, a doctor at Karachi's Jinnah Hospital, said.

Doctors were trying to save the lives of 22 others in a serious condition after drinking the liquor, she said, adding that they were unconscious.

Area police chief Akhtar Farooq said police had conducted raids at illegal liquor factories, arresting three suspects and seizing a quantity of "katchi sharab" (home made liquor).

Though legal breweries exist in Pakistan, the sale of alcohol to Muslims is prohibited and tightly regulated for minorities and foreigners.

While higher-income Pakistanis buy boot-legged alcohol at heavily-inflated prices, the poor often resort to home-brews that can contain methanol, commonly used in anti-freeze and fuel.

Consumption of methanol can lead to blindness, liver damage and death.