Sixty-nine people died following a funeral in Mozambique, after drinking traditional beer now thought to have been contaminated. An additional 196 people have been admitted to hospitals.
Area emergency rooms experienced an influx of patients complaining of diarrhea and muscle pain after a funeral on Saturday, Northeast Tete province Health, Women and Social Welfare Director Paula Bernardo told media. The Mozambique government has declared three days of mourning following the deaths.
The cause of the fatalities is still being investigated, but it’s believed that funeral-goers drank contaminated, and possibly poisoned, local beer. The beer is called Pombe and is made with millet or corn flour. The source of the contamination is not yet known, but the Associated Press reports that authorities believe the drink may have been contaminated with crocodile bile during the funeral.
There is no clear evidence recorded of how poisonous crocodile bile may be, and there are contradictory reports of its true toxicity.
Forbes reports that the woman who owned the beer stand, her daughter, nephew and a few members of close families were some of the first fatalities reported.