MAPUTO, Mozambique – Contaminated traditional beer has killed 56 people in Mozambique, health authorities in the southern African country said on Sunday.
An additional 49 people were admitted to hospitals in the Chitima and Songo districts in the northeastern Tete province, and 146 more people have reported to hospitals to be examined for the poisoning, district health official Alex Albertini told Radio Mozambique.
Those who drank the contaminated brew were attending a funeral in the region on Saturday, 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.
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.