10 January 2015

At least 56 dies as the result of a mass poisoning at a funeral in Mozambique involving beer that was deliberately contaminated with crocodile bile.

On 10 January 2015, authorities in Mozambique reported that 56 people had died and nearly 200 were hospitalized after drinking contaminated beer at a funeral on 9 January. According to local officials, all of the people affected had consumed the local beer, pombe, which they said was likely poisoned with crocodile bile. However, a Forbes article opposed this hypothesis and instead pointed to the toxic flowering plant foxglove as the likely source of the poison. Local officials said that people who had consumed the beer complained about muscle pains and diarrhea. Samples of beer and blood were sent to the capital city of Maputo for laboratory testing. It was eventually determined that the deaths and illnesses were a result of bacterial contamination of the beer.

Radio Mozambique reported that 56 people from the villages of Chitima and Songo, both in Tete Province, had died. 196 were hospitalized after a funeral on 9 January, in the western part of the country. Those affected had consumed home-made pombe beer, a traditional fermented beverage in Mozambique, made of sorghum, bran, corn, sugar, with Schizosaccharomyces pombe yeast.

Among the first reported dead on the following day were the drink stand owner, two of her relatives and four neighbors. The district director of Health, Women and Social Action in Cahora Bassa region, Paula Bernardo, said that area hospitals were flooded with people suffering from cramps and diarrhea and that more people had died. As of 12 January, 169 people remained hospitalized, and that number dropped to 35 on the 13th. The president of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza, announced three days of national mourning.

10 January 1861

During the American Civil War, Florida secedes from the Union.

Florida joined the Confederate States of America at the beginning of the Civil War, as third of the original seven states to secede from the Union, following Lincoln’s 1860 election. With the smallest population, nearly half of them slaves, Florida could only send 15,000 troops to the Confederate States Army. Its chief importance was in food-supply to the south, and support for blockade-runners, with its long coastline full of inlets, hard to patrol.

On the outbreak of war, the Confederates seized many of the state’s army camps, though the Union retained control of the main seaports. But there was little fighting in Florida, the only major conflict being the Battle of Olustee near Lake City in February 1864. However, wartime conditions made it easier for slaves to escape, and many of them became useful informers to Union commanders. As southern morale suffered, deserters from both sides took refuge in Florida, often attacking Confederate units and looting farms. Tallahassee became the second-last Confederate state capital to fall to the Union army. In May 1865, Federal control was re-established, slavery abolished, and the state governor John Milton shot himself, rather than submit to Union occupation.