Contaminated beer kills 69 people at funeral in Mozambique

Drink was apparently poisoned with crocodile bile

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Traditional beer possibly contaminated with crocodile bile has killed 69 people in Mozambique, health authorities have said.

Those who drank the contaminated brew were attending a funeral in the region on Saturday, district health official Alex Albertini said.

Pombe, a traditional Mozambican beer, is made from millet or corn flour. Authorities believe that the drink was poisoned with crocodile bile during the course of the funeral.

On Sunday evening, it was reported that 56 people had been killed and a further 49 people admitted to hospitals in the Chitima and Songo districts in the northeastern Tete province.

Blood and traditional beer samples were being sent to the capital Maputo to be tested, said provincial health director Carle Mosse.

“We don't have the capacity to test the samples,” she told Radio Mozambique.

Mosse told Radio Mozambique on Sunday that she expected the situation to worsen because the region did not have the necessary resources to deal with the disaster.

Mourners who drank the beer in the morning reported no illness, while those who drank the beer in the afternoon, fell ill, authorities said. They believe the beer must have been poisoned while funeral goers were at the cemetery.

The woman who brewed the beer is also among the dead.

Police are investigating the incident.

Health authorities have begun collecting food parcels and other items for donation to the affected families.