Twenty-two people died and seven are in critical condition after drinking illegally produced liquor in northern India, officials in that region said Saturday.

The lethal booze was purchased three days ago at several stores in the Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh state, NDTY television reported, citing the officials.

Authorities have arrested several government employees in charge of controlling sales of alcohol in the area, the sources said.

The unlicensed distilling of liquors periodically causes massive poisonings in India, chiefly in rural and marginal areas, where inhabitants often prefer to buy bootleg liquor because it is much cheaper than legal brands.

The worst poisoning in recent years was in December 2011 in the eastern state of Bengala, where 130 people died from drinking illegal alcohol that all of the victims bought at a railroad station. EFE