MAPUTO, At least 52 people died of contaminated drink on Saturday in Chitima area of the northwestern province of Tete during a funeral ceremony, local media reported on Sunday.
Radio Mozambique said 51 others were admitted into the Chitima and Songo hospitals in the Cahora Bassa district, after consuming the contaminated traditional drink known as “Pombe.” The woman who made the drink was among the dead.
Pombe is made of either maize or millet flour. Health authorities in the provincial capital, Tete city, say 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 drunk in the afternoon started having stomach problems and started dying.
The Maputo Sunday paper reports that it is 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 has 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.
Alex Albertini, Songo’s health unit director told the station that 146 intoxicated people arrive at the hospital since Saturday.
The police is investigating the problem regarded by the provincial authorities as a “tragedy.” The authorities have been calling for solidarity with the families of the victims.
They have collected foodstuffs and other items to donate to the grieved families. These items were collected from the neighboring districts of Magoe, Moatize, Mutarara, and Songo itself.