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.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0945 GMT (1745 HKT)
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1331 GMT (2131 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
Serbia and Albania try to play but the major game is called off after a drone flying a political flag enters the stadium.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
George Clooney's new wife, is now Amal Clooney, raising the issue of married names.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1757 GMT (0157 HKT)
The mysterious unmanned X-37B space plane returns to Earth after more than two years in space. But the U.S. Air force isn't saying much.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.