Africa

Deadly home-brewed liquor kills 17 in Kenya

  • 27 July 2010
  • From the section Africa
Kibera is Kenya's largest slum (file picture)
Many Kenyans drink home-distilled liquor because they cannot afford commercial brands

Poisonous moonshine has killed at least 17 people and blinded a dozen more in Kenya's largest slum.

Police said the home-distilled drink may have contained traces of methanol.

Many of those who died were found in their homes in the Nairobi slum of Kibera. Some were taken to hospital but died after arriving there.

Alcohol-related deaths are common in Kenya, with hundreds of people dying every year from poisoned liquor often sold in the brewer's home.

Home choice

A woman accused of distilling the moonshine, known locally as changaa, was arrested and is now being questioned, police said.

Samples of the liquid have been sent for tests, they added.

Authorities want to know if the poisonous chemicals in the drink were created by accident in the distilling process or were added deliberately - possibly to make the batch go further.

In a country where most people are too poor to afford legally made alcoholic drinks, changaa is the beverage of choice for thousands of Kenyans, says the BBC's Peter Greste in Nairobi.

The drink, brewed in illicit stills in slums and backyards everywhere, is often spiked with toxic additives to make it stronger, our correspondent says.

Medical officials say the number of victims of the latest batch could yet rise.

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