Majority of the victims were Muslims who consumed the alcohol during Eid celebrations.
Officials said Wednesday that 21 people in Karachi had died after drinking homemade liquor during the Eid holidays, highlighting the dangers of moonshine in a country where Muslims are barred from drinking.
The deaths occurred in the city’s low-income Landhi and Korangi neighborhoods. 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,” said Seemi Jamali, a doctor at Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital. 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” (homemade 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 bootlegged 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.