MAPUTO (Reuters) - 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.
She said at least 169 remained in hospital. Samples of the brew and suspicious objects found inside the drum have been sent to the National Laboratory in the capital Maputo for testing.
Home brews concocted from corn, sorghum or other crops are commonly consumed in many parts of Africa and funerals on the continent are often accompanied by drinking and feasting.
The outgoing president, Armando Guebuza, declared three days of national mourning.
(Reporting by Manuel Mucari; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Alison Williams)