69 die after drinking poisoned beer at Mozambique funeral

Posted at 11:29 AM, Jan 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-12 12:10:43-05


MAPUTO, Mozambique (PIX11/AP) — Authorities in Mozambique say the number of people who died after drinking contaminated traditional beer has risen to 69.

Provincial health director, Paula Bernardo, told Radio Mozambique on Monday that 196 people have been admitted to hospitals in the northeastern Tete province. On Sunday evening district health officials said 56 people had died and 49 were hospitalized after drinking the beer at a funeral on Saturday.

Pombe, a traditional Mozambican beer, is made from millet or corn flour. The exact source of the contamination is still unknown, but authorities believe the drink was poisoned with crocodile bile during the course of the funeral.

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

Among the victims was the woman who brewed the fatal refreshment and several of her family members, according to Radio Mozambique.  Officials are still working to determine whether or not the contamination was deliberate.