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Posted: January 12, 2015

Crocodile bile-poisoned beer blamed for at least 50 deaths

By Matt Moreno

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Authorities say at least 50 people are dead in Africa after drinking poisoned beer.

It happened in the city of Tete, Mozambique, over the weekend. A public health official tells Radio Mozambique, early Saturday, people were poisoned at a funeral after drinking a common homemade beer known as pombe.

The International Business Times reports someone may have slipped poisonous crocodile bile into the beer while the families were at the cemetery. 

Crocodile bile is commonly known in Africa as a lethal substance. 

Medical journal The BMJ says if a hunter kills a crocodile, it is "essential" for the hunter to bury the bile in front of witnesses so people don't use it to poison others.

In the 1996 book African Ethnobotany: Poisons and Drugs, researchers write, "It is widely believed that bile from the gall bladder of a crocodile is very poisonous. Thus, in several African countries, it is added to beer or porridge of an unsuspecting person, the victim is supposed to die within 24 hours." 

Which may be the case here. Citing local health officials, RT reports people who drank the beer in the morning were fine, but those who drank it in the afternoon quickly became sick — meaning if someone poisoned it, it may have happened in between that time. By Saturday night, more than 50 people had reportedly died. 

The woman who made the drink is believed to be among the dead. Health officials say more testing is being conducted. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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