Mozambique’s government has declared three days of mourning after 69 people died from drinking contaminated traditional beer at a funeral over the weekend.
Some 196 people have been admitted to hospitals in north east Tete province, according to health, women and social welfare director Paulo Bernando.
“People flocked to the hospital suffering from diarrhoea and muscle pain,” Mr Bernardo told Radio Mozambique. “Then bodies from various neighbourhoods were brought to the hospital and this alerted us.”
The government issued a statement to declare the three days of mourning, beginning today. District health officials on Sunday evening had put the death toll at 56, with 49 in hospital.
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 a funeral on Saturday.
Police are investigating the incident.
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 Mr Mosse.
Authorities are collecting clothing, food and coffins for the bereaved families.