It wasn’t booze, it was methanol – Minister

May 8, 2014 8:38 am
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Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told Capital FM News that samples collected in Embu had 70 percent of Methanol while the concentration in Makueni was 100 percent/FILE
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told Capital FM News that samples collected in Embu had 70 percent of Methanol while the concentration in Makueni was 100 percent/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – A high percentage of industrial chemical methanol is believed to have been the killer in the brew that has so far claimed 80 lives in various parts of the country since Monday.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told Capital FM News that samples collected in Embu had 70 percent of Methanol while the concentration in Makueni was 100 percent.

Macharia indicated that there should be no Methanol in any alcoholic drink as it is normally used to manufacture paint.

“We got samples of a few bottles from the outlets in Embu and Makueni which sold the liquor and tested them. We found a very high percentage of Methanol in brews from both areas. It was 70 percent in Embu and 100 percent in Makueni,” he stated.

According to the Health Secretary, the only component allowed in brews is 40 percent ethanol which he pointed out might have been confused with Methanol while brewing the deadly alcohol.

“The percentage of Methanol in alcohol when it is being brewed should be zero percent. The only component should be Ethanol which the percentage in any case should have been 40 percent,” he said.

He however stated that conclusive results on the cause of deaths can only be arrived at after a post-mortem on those who have died.

“The only way we can be absolutely certain of what killed people is through a post-mortem and that is the reason why we should be very cautious in our thinking so as not to draw the wrong conclusions,” he explained.

The death toll from the consumption of the illicit brew rose to 83, according to figures released by the Kenya National Disaster Operations Centre on Wednesday. READ Two arrested as toxic brew toll hits 83

This was after the death toll in Embu rose to 35 on Wednesday, with that in Makueni rising from six to 18 and with three new cases being reported in Muranga.

The deaths in Kiambu remained constant at 20 but one more death was reported in Kitui, bringing the county death toll to seven.

So far, three people have been arrested – one in Embu and two in Ruai – on suspicion of involvement in the sale of the illicit brew.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku on Wednesday vowed stern action against officers whose responsibility it was to ensure that illicit alcohol was not being brewed or sold.

Eastern regional coordinator Claire Omolo announced that two chiefs in Embu had also been relieved of their duties.
Lenku stated that the interdictions were extended to all the affected areas.

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