, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 9 – At least seven people died on Friday and more than 10 others went blind after they consumed illicit liquor at a den in Nairobi’s Shauri Moyo estate.
Residents told Capital News that the first three victims were found dead at about midday while another four, including a woman, were pronounced dead on the way to hospital, hours later.
Police were yet to confirm reports that two others had died later in the afternoon, raising fears the toll was likely to rise.
“We were surprised when we were told that two people were lying dead in their houses. We then realised that they had all spent the whole morning drinking chang’aa,” Philip Okello, a resident said.
Sixteen people were admitted to hospital after complaining they had lost their sight.
A vendor who sells second-hand clothes a few meters from the drinking den said; “I heard people screaming that three people had died. When they went to confront the chang’aa seller, they discovered that there was another person lying unconscious in the house and he died before he could be taken to hospital.”
A youth leader who only identified himself as Ken said he was alerted by a friend who wanted him to assist them transport one of the chang’aa victims to hospital.
“We immediately rushed him to the Mbagathi hospital where he died upon admission, then we went and reported to the Milimani police station,” he said.
“While coming back, we met others taking another person to hospital and we advised them to rush him to the Kenyatta National Hospital because there was a long queue at Mbagathi, but before they could reach there, he passed away,” he added.
“There was another woman who was found unconscious in the estate after drinking the liquor and she too died on the way to hospital.”
“Another elderly man who complained of stomach pains shortly after drinking the liquor has also passed away as relatives rushed him to hospital. This is a disaster and we are going to vandalise all the brewing houses here,” the youth leader said.
Buru Buru divisional Police chief Kipkemoi Rop who led a team of officers to the scene said: “It is difficult to tell the exact number of people dead because there are those who died in their houses and others in hospitals, please give us time to compile all that data.”
“It is even difficult to tell those who have been taken to hospital because many of them were taken there by their relatives and well wishers, our officers have so far ferried seven to hospital but shortly we will be able to get all the data,” he said confirming that six people had complained of lost sight.
In June 2005, 49 people died in Machakos after they consumed illicit home-made brew suspected to have been laced with a poisonous substance.
Dozens others were reported to have lost sight at the time.