The deaths happened mainly in two villages in the impoverished eastern state, where the sale and consumption of liquor were banned in 2016.

At least 31 people have died and several others hospitalised in India’s Bihar state after drinking toxic alcohol, authorities and local media said.

Such bans are in force in several Indian states, driving a thriving black market for cheap alcohol made in unregulated backstreet distilleries that kills hundreds of people every year.

In the latest incident, men in Saran district, nearly 60km (37 miles) north of state capital Patna, began vomiting on Tuesday before their condition deteriorated.

Several people died on the way to hospital and others died while being treated on Wednesday and Thursday, with local media reports putting the toll at 31.

Senior police officer Santosh Kumar said several of the hospitalised people have lost their eyesight. He added that authorities cracked down on illicit alcohol shops in the area.

“We have arrested 126 people in the last 48 hours after the incident was reported and two cases have been registered,” Kumar said