The toll due to consumption of illicit liquor in Tamil Nadu climbed to 18 on Tuesday, ANI reported, citing the police.

Thirteen residents hailing from the Ekkiyarkuppam village in Viluppuram and five from Chengalpattu’s Madhuranthagam have died, the police said.

The authorities are yet to find a connection between the deaths in the two districts but are investigating the possibility of such a link. Preliminary investigations showed that those who died may have consumed spurious liquor mixed with ethanol and methanol, Inspector General of Police (North) N Kannan said.

So, far two persons have been arrested and 10 police officials, including Viluppuram superintendent of police, have been suspended. Thirty-seven residents are undergoing treatment, The Hindu reported, citing unidentified officials. The police have detained 55 sellers of arrack (an alcoholic drink) in raids across Villupuram district.

Deaths from illegally produced alcohol, popularly called hooch or country liquor, are common in India.

On Tuesday, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami met those hospitalised and demanded the resignation of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.

“This is a sad and shocking incident,” Palaniswami told reporters, according to PTI. “This government has not brought any schemes in the last two years. Those selling spurious liquor are not facing action.”

Describing Stalin as an “inept and a puppet” chief minister, Palaniswami said that the issue had been dealt with sternly under Goondas Act during the AIADMK regime.

“There is outrage...they [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam] promised rivers of milk and honey will flow [ahead of the 2021 polls] but only that of alcohol is flowing now,” the former chief minister said.

Stalin has transferred the case to Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department and assured people that stringent action will be taken against the culprits, reported India Today.

The chief minister has also announced that the families of those who died will be paid Rs 10 lakh. Those who have been hospitalised will be paid Rs 50,000 each.