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Four die after taking lethal drink in slums

Four people have died after consuming alcoholic drinks suspected to be laced with poison.

At least five others were admitted to Thika Level Five Hospital, two of them in critical condition following the incident in Kiandutu on Tuesday evening.

According to villagers, three of the victims died at the drinking den on Tuesday, but hospital authorities confirmed only one death on admission.

“Of the seven people brought to hospital, one died and another one sneaked out. Five others are undergoing treatment and observation,” the medical superintendent, Dr Andrew Toro, said.

However, a police source, who cannot be quoted due to protocol requirements, confirmed that four villagers died from taking the drink.

Police also collected various liquor brands and took them to the Government Chemist for analysis.

Survivors said they bought the drinks from boda boda operators who had found it dumped on the roadside and sold it at throwaway prices in Kiandutu.

The drinks were packed in cartons bearing popular cheap liquor brands. However, its origins remained unknown.

Speaking from his hospital bed, a survivor, John Mburu, said he started feeling dizzy and developed stomachache and a headache after taking the drink. Others reportedly lost their sight.

It is believed that the drinks, packed in 250ml bottles, were consumed by a bigger number than those who were hospitalized and police are appealing to those who may have taken the drinks to seek treatment.

THE VICTIMS

Most of the victims were casual labourers, boda boda riders and matatu touts from Thika Town who live in the Kiandutu slum.

Area MP Alice Ng’ang’a expressed concerns about the deaths, which happened barely a month after four other people died in Munyu in her constituency after consuming similar brews.

She blamed the county government for licensing brewers and bar operators without inspecting their premises.

“The other day we were mourning brew deaths in Munyu, now it is Kiandutu, this must stop,” the MP said.

County chief officer for public service and administration Dominic Gicheru, whose docket covers the licensing of alcoholic drinks, said it was unfortunate this happened after the county had launched a crackdown on illicit brews.

“We suspect that some brewers and bar owners, fearing that we are closing in on them, may be hiding the stuff in the bush, (in) toilets and in dustbins,” he said.

Mr Gicheru warned bar owners against selling substandard brands and said those found selling alcohol before hours will have their licenses cancelled.

Meanwhile, Thika West Sub-County Commissioner Jeremiah Gicheru said a crackdown by police in Kiandutu yesterday recovered three cartons of assorted bottled drinks. The drinks were seized and taken for analysis.