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May 25, 2017

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At least 80 killed in Kenya by toxic homebrew

NAIROBI--At least 80 people have died and dozens more have been blinded or fallen ill after drinking a toxic homebrew thought to have been laced with industrial chemicals, Kenyan officials said Wednesday.

Kenya's National Disaster Operation Centre said in a statement that 80 people had been killed in four districts, updating earlier tolls as the number of victims continues to climb.

Hospital sources said dozens more were receiving treatment.

Some woke up blind after sleeping off the drink, local media reported, while others lost their sight more slowly. Some victims complained of acute stomach pain, blurred vision and general weakness.

One man in hospital recounting his symptoms said it started with what felt like a prolonged and intense hangover, with a pounding headache. But his sight then became blurred, and by the time he was interviewed, he could no longer see anything.

He told local media that if he survived he would give up drink for good.

"What we are trying to establish is the origin of this brew," police spokeswoman Zipporah Mboroki said.

"Investigations are under way and samples will be taken to ascertain where and how it was prepared."

It is not clear if a single brew is responsible for all the deaths, but victims have come from towns both close to the capital Nairobi as well as in the centre and east of the country.

In some areas the alcohol was bought from licensed bars, but in others it was sold on the street, officials said.

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