By Joseph Muchiri
The number of those who died after consuming alcohol laced with a toxic substance in Muraru, Mbeere South District, now stands at eight.
The eight were among the 16 people admitted to the Embu Provincial General Hospital on Tuesday after they developed complications on Sunday and Monday.
The hospital’s Deputy Medical Superintendent Henry Mutune confirmed the deaths and added seven victims had lost their eyesight either partially or wholly.
“The common phenomenon among those who have died is that they developed kidney and liver failures. We have sent urine samples to the Kenya Medical Research Institute to establish the chemical in the beer and what actually killed the victims,” said Dr Mutune.
Area DO John Kirui said that the District Liquor Licensing Court held a meeting yesterday morning and found out that the beer distributor was not licensed. Kirui said they had carried out a raid in bars in the area to ensure the brand is not sold anywhere.
The administrator said the distributor and the bar owner were still at large but added one bar maid was arrested and is being held at the Siakago Police Station.
“We appeal to those who took the beer to visit the nearest health centres for medical attention,” said Kirui. The beer is in plastic bottles and branded ‘warrior fortified wine’ with the label indicating that it is produced by ‘Comrades Investment Co. Ltd of Nairobi’ and has alcoholic content of 52.5. Meanwhile, a sombre mood engulfed the small town of Muraru as residents and families of the deceased mourned their loved ones.
Eastern Province Bar Owners Association Chairman Alex Mugo said that such deaths would continue unless the Government puts strict measures in place to curb sale of beer in plastic bottles, a trend he said, is banned by the Alcoholics Control and Licensing Control Act.