MAPUTO – At least 56 people including a toddler in the north-west of Mozambique have died from apparent poisoning after consuming traditional beer known as "phombe", local authorities said on Sunday.
Carla Mosse, director of health for the province of Tete, told Radio Mocambique that 39 people remained hospitalised on Sunday after suffering the same type of beer poisoning that caused the first deaths Saturday morning.
All the victims – who included a two-year-old child – participated in a funeral on Friday during which they apparently drank the traditional beer made from millet bran, the Mozambique paper A Verdade reported.
The exact cause of the contamination remains unknown, but the woman who brewed the "phombe" and several members of her family were among the victims, Radio Mocambique reported.
"It's the first time we've faced such a tragedy," said Mosse, who added that samples of the poisoned beer, blood, urine and gastric fluids have been taken and are being sent to the capital Maputo and South Africa for analysis.
Mozambique's government declared three days of national mourning in a decree published on Sunday evening. — AFP