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Two arrested over alleged killer brew as toll rises

Wednesday May 7 2014

Members of the public outside a house where scores of people allegedly took illicit brew at Shauri Yako area in Embu on May 6, 2014. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI

Members of the public outside a house where scores of people allegedly took illicit brew at Shauri Yako area in Embu on May 6, 2014. Two people have been arrested in Nairobi over the illegal supply of an alleged killer brew known as Countryman. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI 

JAMES NGUNJIRI
By JAMES NGUNJIRI
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Two people have been arrested in Nairobi over the illegal supply of an alleged killer brew known as Countryman.

The Tuesday arrest is in connection with the more than 70 deaths recorded in the last 48 hours in five counties across the country resulting from the consumption of toxic liquor.

On Wednesday, the death toll continued to rise as 14 more succumbed in Embu County, with four more dead in Makueni county. 75 are still admitted in Makueni, with three going blind.

The lethal brew consumed in Shauri Yako slums in Embu has so far claimed 39 lives after more patients who had been admitted at Embu Level Five Hospital for treatment died.

St John Ambulance Communications Manager Fred Majiwa said two bodies are yet to be identified, and Embu residents have been urged to report any missing persons at the St John Ambulance tracing desk set up within the hospital.

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73 patients are being quarantined at the hospital, until the poison in the deadly alcohol they consumed is identified.

“St John Ambulance in collaboration with the Department of Social Services have set up a psychological support and tracing desk at the hospital to help counsel families and survivors of the illicit brew,” said Mr Majiwa.

Samples of the brew as well as urine and blood samples from the patients have been taken to the government chemist for analysis.

The hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr Gerald Ndiritu said they expect full results in the next two days.

So far, the lethal brew has claimed at least 76 people in five different counties.

Embu County has the highest death toll with 39 dead. In Makueni, at least 16 people have lost their lives and 75 others admitted to hospital, while 10 others have been confirmed dead in Limuru, Kiambu County. Kitui and Murang’a counties have the least death toll of nine and two respectively.