At least 15 residents have died in Bihar’s West Champaran and Gopalganj districts after consuming spurious liquor, reported the Hindustan Times on Thursday. The Bihar government had banned the consumption of alcohol in 2016.

In West Champaran, Superintendent of Police Upendra Nath Verma confirmed that six people died in the district on Thursday.

“Prima facie, these deaths look to have occurred following the consumption of poisonous substances,” he said. “However, the exact cause of the death could only be known after the post mortem reports [come in].”

Verma said that 14 other residents had fallen ill and are undergoing treatment. He added that senior officials of the district administration and the police were camping in the village to investigate the case, reported PTI.

All the victims, who are residents of Telhua village, had consumed the liquor on Wednesday. The deceased have been identified as Jawahir Sahani, Mukesh Paswan, Bachcha Yadav, Hanumat Rai, Maharaj Yadav and Ram Prakash Ram.

In Gopalganj, District Magistrate Naval Kishor Choudhary confirmed that nine spurious liquor-related deaths have occurred since since Tuesday. Of these, four deaths were reported on Thursday.

Of the four deaths, Choudhary said: “Two persons died while they were undergoing treatment, while two others died when they were being taken to hospital. The [official] cause of the deaths can be known only after post mortem reports arrive.”

The four residents who died are Santosh Gupta, Chhotelal Soni, Chhotelal Kushwaha, and Mukesh Ram, who was one of the traders of the spurious liquor, reported The Indian Express.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Kumar Singh said four people – Chhotelal Sah, Jitendra Sharma, Ashok Sharma and Rampravesh Sah – have been arrested.

“We have seized 24 pouches of desi liquor from Chhotelal Sah’s home and six pouches from Mukesh Ram’s house,” he added. “Both the houses have been sealed.”

Gopalganj Superintendent of Police Anand Kumar said that Mukesh Ram had earlier been arrested for the trading of illicit alcohol. He said that there are reports that the liquor was brought from across the Gandak river from East Champaran and Muzaffarpur districts.

Four people who had fallen ill after consuming the liquor are being treated.

In October, eight people had died in similar incidents in Muzaffarpur.

In Gopalganj, this is the second such major illicit liquor tragedy. In 2016, the number of residents who died after consuming spurious liquor was 21.

Nine people were sentenced to death and five others have been given life sentences in the case.