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Friday, 29 March, 2002, 13:18 GMT
Deadly brew hits Madagascar
Antananarivo residents
Malagasy are keen spirit-drinkers
At least 11 people have died after drinking a home-made alcoholic brew in Madagascar's capital Antananarivo.

Ideally, we would give them whisky to drink but we don't have any in stock

Dr Randria Rasenoherimanana
Another 29 have gone to hospital and eight are still being treated, a doctor at the Joseph Raovangy hospital told the BBC.

But Dr Randria Rasenoherimanana said that more may have died at home, without the authorities being informed, because of a Malagasy tradition of remaining with the body of a recently deceased relative.

The moonshine was a lethal alcohol based on methanol and the only cure would be to drink an ethanol-based alcohol, such as whisky or pastis, said the doctor.

"Ideally, we would give them whisky to drink, but we don't have any in stock," said Dr Rasenoherimanana, who works in the hospital's department of toxicology.

A police commissioner said that a total of 18 people had been killed.


There are conflicting reports as to whether the brew was a local spirit, Toka Gasy, which is made according to traditional recipes in rural Madagascar or a lethal concoction brewed in Antananarivo.

Bottles of rum and glasses in a corner shop
Corner shops sells glasses of locally-made rum

The victims drank it in an illegal bar in the poor district of Ambuimaranarina in the west of the capital.

The BBC's Johnny Donovan in Antananarivo says that the Malagasy are keen spirit-drinkers.

In 1998, an entire village in the north of Madagascar was poisoned, leaving around 200 people dead, said Dr Rasenoherimanana.

See also:

17 Mar 02 | Africa
Madagascar's quiet revolution
16 Nov 00 | Africa
Kenya's poison brew toll rises
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