Health authorities have confirmed that at least 69 people have died after drinking poisoned beer at a funeral in the Tete province of southeastern African country Mozambique.
District director for Health, Women and Social Action Paulo Bernardo said that at least 196 people are in the hospital, all of whom attended a funeral on Saturday where Pombe, a locally brewed Mozambican beer, was being served.
A police investigation determined that the beer was likely poisoned with crocodile bile during the services. Authorities reported that those who drank the beer in the morning did not get sick whereas those who drank the beer in the afternoon ended up in the hospital.
Bernardo fears that the death toll will continue to rise, admitting that they do not possess the resources to deal with this situation.
“People flocked to the hospital, suffering from diarrhea and muscle pain,” Bernardo told Radio Mozambique. “Then bodies from various neighborhoods were brought to the hospital, and this alerted us."
According to district health official Alex Albertini, poisoning by crocodile bile is common in the area. Health authorities believe the deadly greenish-brown liquid was put in the beer consumed by mourners at Saturday's funeral.
Blood and beer samples have been sent to the capital, Maputo, for testing.
The woman in charge of brewing the beer is among those who died from poisoning.
Health officials are currently aiding families affected by this crisis as the investigation continues.