At least 56 people including a toddler in the north-west of Mozambique have died from apparent poisoning after consuming traditional beer known as "phombe".

Director of health for the province of Tete Carla Mosse, told Radio Mocambique that 39 people remained hospitalised.

They were admitted after suffering the same type of beer poisoning that caused the first deaths yesterday. 

All the victims, who included a two-year-old child, participated in a funeral last Friday during which they apparently drank the traditional beer made from millet bran, the Mozambique paper A Verdade reported. 

The exact cause of the contamination remains unknown, but the woman who brewed the "phombe" and several members of her family were among the victims, Radio Mocambique reported. 

"It's the first time we've faced such a tragedy," said Dr Mosse, who added that samples of the poisoned beer, blood, urine and gastric fluids have been taken and are being sent to the capital Maputo and South Africa for analysis.  

Mozambique's government declared three days of national mourning in a decree published this evening.