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Poisoned Alcohol Death Toll Rises to 79 in Libya

By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff
Created: March 12, 2013 Last Updated: March 15, 2013
Related articles: World » Africa
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Poisoned alcohol death toll: At least 79 people were killed by poisoned alcohol believed to contain methanol, with the death toll rising from previous reports.

This photo shows the inside of a hospital in Tripoli in October 2011. On Tuesday, it was reported that 79 people were killed by bad alcohol in Tripoli. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images)

This photo shows the inside of a hospital in Tripoli in October 2011. On Tuesday, it was reported that 79 people were killed by bad alcohol in Tripoli. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images)

Libyan officials said Tuesday that 79 people were confirmed dead over the past four days after they drank homemade alcohol, which is believed to contain poisonous methanol, or wood alcohol.

Tripoli Colonel Mahmoud al-Sharif, who heads security for the city, said that another 709 people were sickened, reported The Associated Press. Some of the victims have experienced blindness, kidney failure, or went into comas.

“It’s a disaster there,” one visitor who went to the Tripoli Central Hospital told the Libya Herald, referring to the sickened victims. Doctors said there are not enough beds in the facility’s emergency room to hold the patients.

“It’s the first experience of a disaster like this,” a doctor, who was not named, told the 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.”

“Most of the patients are in very bad condition,” the doctor said, and added that the “poison cases are not coming just from one source. There is more than one source.”

Officials are currently searching for two people involved in making the bad alcohol. They are also trying to determine if the brew contained methanol or if bad fermentation was involved, according to AP.

Sharif said the death toll was higher than what Health Minister Nouri Doghman said earlier on Tuesday. He said that 60 people died.

Those who were killed were between the ages of 19 and 50, Sharif added.

Alcohol sales and consumption are prohibited in Libya. Some Libyans make homemade alcohol or try to source it from black market dealers.

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