At least 60 dead from alcohol poisoning in Tripoli, ministry says
March 13, 2013 -- Updated 0818 GMT (1618 HKT)
- More than 700 cases of alcohol poisoning have been reported, Libyan News Agency reports
- Alcohol consumption is banned in Libya, but alcoholic drinks can be found
- Locally made alcohol is behind this case, the National Security Directorate says
(CNN) -- At least 60 people have died in the Libyan capital after drinking locally made alcohol, the Ministry of Health says, and the National Security Directorate of Tripoli said Tuesday it is launching an investigation.
According to the Libyan News Agency, there were 709 other cases of alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol sale and consumption is prohibited in Libya, a conservative Muslim nation, but smuggled alcoholic drinks can be found, in addition to homemade alcohol locally known as "bokha."
The National Security Directorate said this large-scale poisoning was caused by such locally made alcohol.
A medical source in Tripoli who has seen some of the patients told CNN their symptoms indicated methanol poisoning. Methanol overdose symptoms include breathing problems, blindness, comas, seizures and death.
Officials say the first case was reported in the capital on Thursday, and over the following days Tripoli Central Hospital received a large number of people showing signs of alcohol poisoning. Some cases had to be transferred to other hospitals.
Those affected ranged in age from 16 to 55, the head of the internal medicine department at the hospital, Dr. Massoud al-Azzabi, told the state news agency on Monday. Some lost their eyesight, and some of the others were put on dialysis machines or respirators, he said.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Tripoli National Security Directorate announced the formation of a committee of five officers to oversee the investigation into the alcohol poisoning, which some reports call the worst ever in Libya.
The directorate said police stations in the city have started to record the cases and the Criminal Investigations unit is investigating.
A security task force that includes a number of security and revolutionary forces has been formed and is ready to raid suspected bootlegger hideouts upon orders from the government, according to the state news agency.
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 0014 GMT (0814 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
Today's five most popular stories