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Bad beer kills scores at Mozambique funeral





MAPUTO, Mozambique -- 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.

"People flocked to the hospital, suffering from diarrhea and muscle pain," Bernardo said "Then bodies from various neighborhoods were brought to the hospital, and this alerted us."

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.

"We are waiting for the results of the tests of the samples being done at Maputo Central Hospital so that we can identify the type of the product put into the drink," said Mosse.



Authorities are collecting clothing, food and coffins for the bereaved families.

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