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Lethal brew kills 11 in Kenyan towns

Tuesday September 13 2011

Police pour impounded liquor after a swoop. Eleven people died in two towns within Nyandarua county after consuming an illicit brew September 13, 2011. FILE

Police pour impounded liquor after a swoop. Eleven people died in two towns within Nyandarua county after consuming an illicit brew September 13, 2011. FILE  

By JAMES KARIUKI and DAVID MACHARIA

Eleven people have died in two towns within Nyandarua county after consuming an illicit brew.

Seven of the victims' bodies were found in various locations in Nyahururu township, while four died in Ol Kalou. Six others were blinded by the killer brew.

Another six were admitted to Ol Kalou and Nyahururu hospitals in critical condition complaining of abdominal pains. The deaths prompted a massive swoop on the brew distribution outlets to try and confiscate the killer liquor.

Nyahururu District Commissioner Lucy Mulili said two deaths were first reported on Saturday.

She said some of the outlets selling the alcohol did not have licenses.

"We shall organise a massive swoop on the local depots and bars in the affected towns to get rid of the illegal spirits circulating in our jurisdictional areas,” said the DC.

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The spirits, which go by different names such as "Jamba", "Yokozuna" and "Trigger", were impounded at Mikiki Mikiki depot in Nyahururu after survivors identified the depot as the major distributor around the area.

On Tuesday, Nyahururu residents woke up to find the body of Warui Karucua – the latest victim of the brew- at a public garden outside the Nyandarua Regional Commissioner's offices.

The local chief, Muraya Waithaka, said Mr Karucua was among five people said to have taken the potent brew. Others are: Kori Gachegua, John Gachara, Gitau Njoroge and Maina Waweru.

Those who died in Ol Kalou were: Erastus Njuki, Peter Gitaru, Sarah Wanjiru and Joseph Kiama while another nine people were treated and discharged.

Police led by the Nyahururu police station OCS Allan Ogolla had to borrow metal bars from nearby Jua Kali artisans to break the metal doors to access the rooms where the brew was stored in cartons.

Later Ms Mulili and Nyandarua North OCPD Jasper Ombati visited the depot. Police also recovered bottles that were yet to be used in packing the spirits said to have a 40 per cent alcoholic content.

Nyahururu district AP boss Daniel Masaba said there was need for the public health department to move with speed and identify the lethal brews saying many bottled alcoholic beverages had been licensed.

“How do we raid a premises to impound a licensed alcoholic drink? We have taken samples that will be sent to the government chemist for testing,” he said.

Mr Masaba said the swoop will continue across the region to ensure all brews found to be questionable were taken off the market.