MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE - At least 69 people died over the weekend in Mozambique after drinking home-brewed beer, a local government official told state television.
The mass poisoning occurred when people attending a funeral on Friday in the village of Chitima in central Mozambique fell ill, with seven fatalities initially confirmed on Saturday morning.
"As we prepared to determine the cause of death of people, we began to receive a lot of people with diarrhea and other muscle aches. After that, we began to receive dead bodies from several neighborhoods," Paula Bernardo, the district director for Health, Women and Social Action, told the public broadcaster.
Bernardo said at least 169 remained hospitalized. Samples of the brew and suspicious objects found inside the drum have been sent for testing at the National Laboratory in the capital, Maputo.
Home brews concocted from corn, sorghum or other crops are commonly consumed in many parts of Africa and are often served at funeral feasts.
The outgoing president, Armando Guebuza, declared three days of national mourning.