updated 1/1/2012 2:36:16 PM ET 2012-01-01T19:36:16

An official says at least 16 people have died after drinking a toxic home-brewed liquor over the weekend in southern India.

Gaurav Uppal, a top district administrator, says another 24 poor villagers are being treated in hospitals in the Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh state.

Seven people died soon after drinking the illegally brewed alcohol on Saturday and another nine lost their lives on Sunday, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Uppal as saying. Uppal could not be reached immediately for comment. The region is nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) south of New Delhi.

The victims were poor laborers looking for a cheap means of intoxication. Deaths from drinking illegally brewed alcohol are common in India since the poor cannot afford licensed liquor. The illicit liquor is often spiked with pesticides or chemicals to increase its potency.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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