TRIPOLI, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The number of those poisoned by home-made alcohol in Libya's capital of Tripoli have increased to 551, while 51 of them have died, health ministry spokesman Amar Surmani told Xinhua Tuesday.
Since Monday, as many as 551 people have been poisoned after drinking tainted homemade alcohol, locally called "Bokha," Surmani said.
Some families requested to send the patients to Tunisia for better treatment, but 13 patients eventually died on the way to Tunisia, the spokesman said.
The homemade alcohol was mixed with methanol, which led to blindness, kidney failure or epileptic seizures, Surmani said, adding that at least 40 people have lost their eye sight.
Some of the poisoned people are in critical conditions, while a few have been discharged from hospitals, Surmani said.
The hospitals and doctors throughout Tripoli and its suburbs are now on emergency standby, as the number of poisoned people may further rise.
The Libyan health ministry issued a statement on Monday, urging citizens not to drink alcohol as it contradicts with the laws of Islam and is harmful to health.
Local media reported that the problematic alcohol "Bokha" was purchased in different areas in the capital and its suburbs. Bokha is distilled from various fruits like figs, dates and grapes.
The consumption and sale of alcohol is illegal in Libya, but is available in the black market.