Beer laced with crocodile bile thought to have killed around 70 funeral-goers in Mozambique

MAPUTO (AFP) - At least 69 people are reported to have died of poisoning after drinking traditional beer in north-westen Mozambique, according to public radio reports.

More than 30 others remain hospitalised after funeral-goers apparently ingested the home-brewed beer known locally as "phombe".

It is usually made from millet or sorghum.

The woman who brewed the beer and several members of her family are among the dead, making it difficult for investigators to ascertain what could have contaminated the beer.

Ms Carla Mosse, director of health for Tete province, said the cause of the poisoning is still unknown.

Some local media believed the beer was laced with crocodile bile, a powerful toxin, but that claim has not been proven.

Mozambique's government has declared three days of national mourning.

Burials of the victims began on Sunday and are being speeded up as the local morgue cannot cope with the huge number of bodies.