KARACHI - At least 35 people including two women died in a town of Tando Muhammad Khan, some 250 kilometres northeast of Karachi, after drinking tainted liquor, with dozens more sickened.

The incident is the latest to highlight the proliferation of low-grade liquor in the country.

The poisoning occurred on Monday evening in Kareemabad area of Tando Muhammad Khan.

"So far we have reports of over 30 deaths including two women," Nasim Ara Panwar, said a senior police officer. Majority of the victims were minority Hindus, she added.

A second police official who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media confirmed the incident and toll.

"Thirty-seven people were brought to hospitals," he said.

Panwar added police had made four arrests relating to the incident but were chasing a key suspect who remained at large.

"We have confiscated 65,000 litres of liquor only two days ago but their production is very high," she said.

Talking to Chief Secretary Siddique Memon and IG Police AD Khwaja, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said the incident had shocked him deeply.

He ordered the IG police to place the services of SSP Tando Mohammad Khan, concerned DSP and SHO under suspension immediately. He also directed Minister for Excise & Taxation Gianchand Israni to suspend the concerned excise & taxation staff of TM Khan.

Gayan Chand said an inquiry was underway and several officials had been suspended for negligence.

The chief minister directed the IGP to issue necessary instructions to his police officers all over Sindh to start crackdown against the illegal distilleries, if any and selling of liquor violating laws.

"I would not only take action against the concerned officers but send them behind the bars in case of any negligence," he said.

The chief minister ordered the DIG Hyderabad to conduct a thorough inquiry into the incident and report to him within a week.

He directed the IG police to take strict action against the culprits. "Show me how many criminals are involved in running of illegal distilleries and have been taken to task. I want result and I mean it," he ordered.

Meanwhile, IG Sindh AG Khawaja has issued the suspension and demotion orders of police officers deployed in the respective police station area.

IG Sindh has also directed the authorities to take disciplinary action against the police officers and personnel.

Though legal breweries exist in Pakistan, the sale of alcohol and consumption is prohibited for Muslims and tightly regulated for minorities and foreigners.

While wealthy people buy bootlegged foreign alcohol at heavily inflated prices, the poor often resort to home-brews that can contain methanol, commonly used in anti-freeze and fuel.

In October 2014 at least 29 drinkers were killed after consuming methanol-tainted liquor over the Eid holidays.