52 die of poisoned drink in Mozambique

Maputo: At least 52 people have died after consuming a contaminated drink during a funeral ceremony in Mozambique's province of Tete, media reports said Sunday.

The tragic incident took place Saturday in Chitima area of the northwestern province. Radio Mozambique said 51 others were admitted to hospitals after consuming the contaminated traditional drink known as "Pombe". The woman who made the drink was among the dead, Xinhua reported.

Pombe is made of either maize or millet flour.

Health authorities said that some of the people had the drink in the morning and had no problem at all. But the second group of the mourners, who drank in the afternoon started having stomach problems.

The Maputo Sunday daily reported that it was suspected that someone put a toxic substance from crocodile bile in the drink while people were going to the local cemetery.

Quoting Tete's provincial health director, Carla Mosse, Radio Mozambique said that her directorate collected blood samples and the drink to send to health ministry to be tested.

"We don't have the capacity of testing the samples. We have sent them to Maputo," Mosse said.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident.

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