#Libya mass alcohol poisoning: Deaths rise to 82, around 900 hospitalised, more cases expected – 150313 1100z

At least 51 people were reported this evening, Monday, to have now died from drinking contaminated alcohol.

The number of cases that have been admitted to Tripoli’s hospitals is also now put at 551.

Victims are being treated at hospitals throughout the capital as well as outside it.

“It’s a disaster there,” reported one visitor to Tripoli Central Hospital.

Doctors there say that there are not enough beds in the emergency room to deal with the number of patients arriving.

“It’s the first experience of a disaster like this,” a doctor at the hospital told the Libya Herald.

“We’re not trained to deal with a situation like this. The hospital does not have the capacity for such a large number coming.”

Patients, he said, were still arriving. All the medical teams, doctors and nurses were working hard, he said.

Some had not not slept for 24 hours.

“Most of the patients are in very bad condition. The problem was that that their kidneys had been damaged”, he explained.

Some are being treated at the hospital. Others who could be moved were being sent to the kidney clinic in Zahra, on the way to Zawia.

At least 13 victims were reported earlier this evening have been sent to Tunisia for treatment.

Worryingly, the doctor claimed that the mass poisoning was not from one batch of contaminated alcohol.

“These poison cases are not coming just from one source. There is more than one source,” he stated.

If so, it suggests there could be many more cases in the next couple of days.

This is already Libya’s biggest case of mass poisoning.

Speaking earlier during the day when the death toll was put at 36 and with 370 cases admitted to hospital, Health Minister Nurideen Doghman said that a crisis committee had been formed and a state of emergency declared at all hospitals and health centres in the country.

Respirators had been bought to meet shortages in hospitals while dialysis centres were working continuously, he said.

He added that two girls as well an Algerian were among those who had died.

In a statement, the National Security Directorate in Tripoli, part of the Interior Ministry, said earlier today that an investigation into the mass poisoning had been launched by the Criminal Investigations Directorate.

Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 at 03:53 (03:53 AM) UTC RSOE

Update: The above report originated from libyaherald.com, however the BBC’s account differs somewhat:

Alcohol poisoning kills 51 in Libya

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At least 51 people have died after drinking tainted homemade alcohol in Tripoli, Libyan health officials say.

They say 378 have been taken to the capital’s hospitals since Saturday, and the number may rise further.

A hospital official told the BBC the deaths occurred from methanol poisoning and that many patients were undergoing kidney dialysis for treatment.

The consumption and sale of alcohol is illegal in Libya, but it is available on the black market.

Premises surrounded

The Libyan health officials say 38 people have now died in Tripoli hospitals and another 13 as they were travelling to neighbouring Tunisia for treatment.

A state of emergency has been declared in the capital’s hospitals.

The alcohol in question is a cheap local brew known as Bokha. It is distilled from various fruits like figs, dates or grapes.

But industrial spirits – like methanol – are sometimes used to increase the potency of the drink, the BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli reports.

Health risks after drinking methanol include kidney failure, blindness, seizures and death.

Interior ministry official Hussein al-Amry told the BBC that special units had surrounded locations where the homemade alcohol was thought to have been brewed.

He added that the ministry was prepared to use force if the owners did not comply with an order to vacate the premises.

Alcohol is also smuggled into Libya from Tunisia, Algeria and Malta.”

Update

The number of dead in the alcohol poisoning disaster in Tripoli has risen to 82 today, Thursday, according to Colonel Mahmoud Sharif, the head of National Security in Tripoli. The latest death toll included another woman he said. He put the total number of poison victims at around 900. Eighteen more were taken to Tripoli Medical Centre and eight to Tripoli Central Hospital according to the National Security directorate’s daily bulletin. The reason for confusion about the number of cases in the past couple of days, Sharif told the Libya Herald today, was that some victims were transferred from one hospital to another and ended up being registered more than once.

Friday, 15 March, 2013 at 04:25 UTC RSOE

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