The death toll in the hooch tragedy that rattled Malappuram district on Monday rose to 23 on Tuesday. At least half-a-dozen people are being treated for poisoning in the critical care unit of the Government Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode.

Health authorities on Tuesday confirmed the death of Nagarajan from Andhra Pradesh, Balakrishnan from Perasannur, Ramachandran from Tamil Nadu, and Chathu from Tirunavaya. They were being treated in different hospitals. The victims had consumed toddy from shops at Kuttippuram, Perasannur and Vaniyambalam in Malappuram district.

The bodies of 19 victims were sent to the medical college hospital for post-mortem. Seven of them were from Kuttippuram, six from Wandoor and five from Tirur. Two bodies are yet to be identified. The bodies of a few others were cremated before the hooch panic was triggered on Monday morning.

Many more dozens of people who consumed toddy on Saturday and Sunday sought medical aid at hospitals across the district after they developed symptoms of poisoning. Many cases were referred to the medical college hospital. As many as 148 cases were treated at the medical college hospital. Hospitals at Wandoor reported 122 cases of poisoning. Dozens of cases were treated at the taluk hospital in Tirur.

The Crime Branch of the State police began an investigation into the tragedy. Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch) Pradeep Kumar is heading the investigation team. Additional Director-General of Police for Crime Vinson M. Paul visited the affected areas on Tuesday.

Blockade

Youth Congress activists blocked Excise Commissioner S. Subbaiyya at Vaniyambalam for about 30 minutes. He was gheraoed as he proceeded to inspect a toddy shop that supplied poisoned brew at Vaniyambalam.