Homemade alcohol kills 51 in Libya: health ministry

TRIPOLI Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:51pm EDT

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Fifty one people have died since Saturday after drinking homemade alcohol, most of them in the Libyan capital Tripoli, with more than 300 others suffering from alcohol poisoning, the health ministry said on Monday.

The consumption and sale of alcohol is banned in the North African country, even though it is available on the black market.

In a statement on its website, the ministry said 38 people had died in Tripoli and another 13 had died while on their way to Tunisia for treatment.

"There have been 378 cases of alcohol poisoning so far," the ministry said, adding the illegal concoction is believed to have contained methanol. The deaths were among that figure.

It gave no further details about the alcohol or its source.

With its long porous borders, Libya has seen a significant increase in drug and alcohol trafficking since the 2011 war that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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