Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 17:01 UK

Illegal banana gin 'kills 80' in Uganda

Pouring home-made gin
Similar home-made gins are common across Africa

Some 80 people have died in Uganda after drinking illegal home-made banana gin laced with methanol, a health official says.

Patrick Tusiime said so many people had died because relatives did not want to admit that people had been drinking the gin, known as waragi.

The deaths have occurred over the past three weeks in the south-western Kabale district, he told Reuters news agency.

He said the authorities were conducting house-to-house searches for the gin.

The BBC's Joshua Mmali in the capital, Kampala, says waragi is drunk across Uganda, often by those who cannot afford industrialised alcohol.


He says deaths from drinking it are not uncommon but this is the largest number killed at one time for several years.

About 120 jerrycans of waragi have been seized, reports Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper.

"All the alcohol found has been confiscated but people are stubborn and have found ingenious ways of hiding it," Mr Tusiime said.

He said those affected became blind and suffered liver and kidney failure before dying.

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