Africa

Mozambique beer poisoning deaths rise to 69

A man drinks traditional beer in Polokwane, South Africa, on 26 February 2010 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Homemade beer is popular in many African countries, as seen here in South Africa

The number of people killed after drinking a "poisoned" homemade beer in Mozambique has risen to 69, state radio has reported.

The beer, usually made from millet, may have been contaminated with crocodile bile, a health official said.

A toddler was among those killed after apparently drinking the beer at a funeral in Tete province on Saturday.

An official said it was the worst such tragedy to hit Mozambique, with 39 people still being treated in hospital.

The government declared three days of national mourning in a decree published on Sunday.

The beer, known as "phombe", is traditionally served at functions in Mozambique's Tete province. Deaths from drinking it are rare, correspondents say.

Carle Mosse, the province's health director, said it was suspected that the poisoning had been caused by crocodile bile although this had yet to be confirmed in tests.

It was not immediately clear how the beer had been contaminated and whether it was intentional.

The woman who brewed the beer and several members of her family were among the victims, Radio Mozambique has reported.

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