At least 33 people in Kenya died on Monday night and Tuesday from drinking illegal liquor, local media and government officials said on Tuesday. Some 45 have been hospitalized and several have gone blind.
Television footage showed victims writhing in pain in local hospitals in the eastern and central counties of Embu, Kitui and Kiambu. In Kiambu County, where nine people died, Police Commander James Mugera said authorities were still looking for more victims.
The spirits probably all originated from one batch, John Mututho, chairman of the state-run National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse, said on Citizen Television.
Drinking dens selling illicit homemade brews from jerry cans are common in the back streets of many towns and villages in Kenya. They prompted Mututho, a former lawmaker, to sponsor a landmark alcohol-control law in parliament in 2010, but the law has proved ineffective.
“One of the ladies who is now blind said they started drinking at 5 a.m.,” Mututho told Citizen. “There is no outlet in Kenya which is authorized to open at 5 a.m. In fact, the earliest it should be [is] 5 p.m.”