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Death toll from fatal Kenyan brew rises to nearly 100

victim
A man who fell ill after drinking homemade alcohol is assisted by staff as he arrives for treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday  

NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) -- Nearly 100 people have died in Kenya after drinking a fatally contaminated illegal brew, and another 400 people are hospitalized, some suffering from blindness, Kenyan police said on Friday.

The consignment first hit the streets Tuesday, but despite widespread publicity about its dangers, police said some people were still buying and drinking the illicit concoction -- known locally as chang'aa.

"We are still sending word to those who may have drunk it to visit the nearest hospital facility," police spokesman Peter Kimanthi told Reuters.

"We are also trying to persuade people not to drink more -- but there are those who say they can't give up."

Nairobi's hospitals on Friday were crammed with patients, some lying two to a bed, sweating and writhing in pain, many of them unable to see.

Kimanthi said 12 women suspected of selling the deadly chang'aa had been arrested.

Most illegal drinking dens in Nairobi's slums are run by elderly widows who compete for customers with the intensity of their brew. At just ten shillings (15 cents) a glass, the drink sells for one sixth of the price of beer and is widely popular.

This batch of chang'aa is suspected to have been laced with methanol.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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Death toll from Kenya illegal brew rises to 51
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