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Seventy-one people are dead and about 200 others are sick after drinking a poisoned homemade beer in the village of Chitima in Mozambique.

According to state-run Radio Mozambique, after returning home from a funeral late Friday, a group of people stopped in an area where customers can buy a popular homemade beer called “Phombe.”

Those who drank the beverage were found dead by Saturday morning. The radio station reported that several more patients poured into the hospital the following day.

“As we prepared to determine the cause of death, many more people began to arrive with diarrhea and other muscle aches,” according Paula Bernardo, director of health, women and social welfare in the northeastern Tete province. “Then many dead bodies from several neighborhoods were brought in, which aroused our attention.”

“Phombe” contains sorghum, bran corn, and sugar. Officials believe the beer was poisoned with crocodile bile, according to the AP. Samples drawn from the batch were sent to a national laboratory for tests, but so far, police have no leads as to who may have poisoned the beer or why.

Because the hospital’s morgue was too small to accommodate the dead, a mass funeral was held for the victims. The village is now receiving help from authorities and non-governmental groups.


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