Police take two suspects into custody in connection with the incident

The toll in the hooch tragedy at Poratanagar Thanda near here rose to 16 on Sunday with seven more tribals succumbing to the killer brew and contaminated food.

Two victims undergoing treatment in Government General Hospital at Vijayawada died on Sunday evening. Five others were battling for their lives in various hospitals in Vijayawada and Mylavaram.

Meanwhile, the State government announced Rs.2 lakh as ex gratia to the kin of the dead. Earlier, Minister for Prohibition and Excise Mopidevi Venkataramana Rao and Secondary Education Minister Kolusu Parthasarathy consoled the families in the thandas.

Kin block traffic

In Vijayawada, the kin of the deceased blocked the traffic on National Highway No. 5 around 8 p.m. on Sunday, declining the ‘meagre' ex gratia amount of Rs. 2 lakh and also protesting against the conduct of the post-mortem without their permission. The police took two suspects into custody in connection with the incident, but refused to divulge their names.

Tension prevailed for a while at the Community Health Centre in Mylavaram town when MLC Jelly Wilson and Nandigama MLA Tangirala Prabhakar staged a dharna along with the members of the bereaved families demanding compensation.

They refused to take the bodies until the government paid a compensation of Rs.10 lakh. The protesters accused the government of remaining indifferent to the tragic incident even after 24 hours as the victims were tribal people.

The Left parties and the TDP leaders demanded an ex gratia of Rs.10 lakh, a house and job for the kin of the deceased families. District Collector S.A.M. Rizvi, meanwhile, promised to provide Indiramma houses to the kin of the dead.

The seven deceased have been identified as – Kagga Yedukondalu (40), Gugulothu Dharma (55), Lavuri Chittemma (55), Banavathu Raja (27), Ajmeera Venkateswara Rao (39), Banavathu Chinna (48) and Ajmeera Nageswara Rao (28).

This was the second such major incident in the last two years in the State. As many as 18 persons died and 10 others lost their eyesight in a similar incident at Amalapuram in East Godavari district, two years ago.

Kiran orders probe

Hyderabad Staff Reporter adds: Meanwhile, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on Sunday directed the Krishna Collector Syed Ali Murtaza Rizvi to visit Poratanagar in Mylavaram mandal to take stock of the situation following the hooch tragedy and take action against those responsible for the incident.

In a statement, the Chief Minister further instructed the Collector to ensure proper medical care to those who had taken ill seriously after consuming the spurious liquor.

Mr. Reddy also sought a detailed report from the Collector on the reasons for the tragedy.