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About 30 people killed by illicit brew in Kenya

Xinhua | Updated: 2014-05-06 20:40

NAIROBI - About 30 people have died while more than 40 others hospitalized since Monday after consuming illicit liquor in central and eastern parts of Kenya, authorities confirmed on Tuesday.

National Campaign and Drug Abuse Agency (NACADA) Chairman John Mututho confirmed the deaths. Some 20 people died in Embu in eastern Kenya on Monday while nine others died in Limuru, Kiambu County about 40km in central Kenya on Tuesday.

Country Commissioner Esther Maina confirmed the nine deaths in Limuru, saying some of the people who took the toxic drinks are hospitalized.

According to Maina, the victims from Nazareth village consumed pure methanol which was sold to them by one of the victims David Mungai who she said was a illicit brew dealer.

Police in Embu have arrested a suspected brewer while the entire Shauri slum where the incident took place was in a state of panic.

Embu divisional police commander, Elphas Korir confirmed his officers picked two dead bodies at the Shauri slum where the toxic liquor was being retailed at 0.23 US dollars per 100 milliliter measure.

Unconfirmed reports also said at least 10 other people died in Kitui in eastern Kenya.

Home brew is popular among Kenyans because it is cheap and extremely strong. Traditionally, the ingredients range from fermented corn and sorghum meal to juice from coconut and sugarcane.

In recent years, however, and mostly in urban areas, high- octane fuel and mentholated spirit are added to enhance potency. A glass of home brew costs 0.12 US dollars hence the name "kumi kumi" (ten ten) compared to a bottle of beer, which costs at least 1 dollar.

Police sporadically raid illegal brew dens, but there is no concerted national effort to discourage people from consuming the many types available.

Residents especially in central Kenya have blamed the local administration of being compromised by brewers, whom are carrying out business in the open without being arrested.

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