At least 10 people have died after allegedly consuming alcohol-based sanitiser in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, The Indian Express reported. Seven people died on Friday morning and three others died over the past two days at Darsi Government Hospital.

The incident took place in Kurichedu town, and the police said that the deceased had been drinking sanitiser, either mixed with alcohol or water, for at least the past week.

The police said they found empty as well as unopened sanitiser bottles in at least 20 houses. “Family members confirmed that the victims were consuming it in place of liquor,” Prakasam District SP Siddharth Kaushal said. “Most of the deceased are daily-wage labourers and beggars. We have seized some stock of sanitisers from some shops while those with medical shops would be examined for chemical contents. Apart from the post-mortem report, we have also sought a toxicology report to ascertain what exactly happened.” All licensed liquor shops have been closed to contain the spread of the infection in Kurichedu.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has sought a report from the police as well as the collector.

A beggar at a local temple complained of severe burning sensation in his stomach and died while being taken to the hospital on Wednesday night, according to the Hindustan Times. Two others, who were shifted to the government hospital in Darsi town, succumbed on Thursday night. Similarly, seven people who were also admitted to the hospital with stomach pains, died on Friday.

The victims fell unconscious hours after consuming the hand sanitiser, according to the family members. However, the quantity consumed by them is not clear yet.

Prakasam district Superintendent of Police Siddharth Kaushal told the Hindustan Times that they consumed hand sanitiser due to non-availability of liquor amid the coronavirus pandemic.