Tripoli, March 12 : As many as 51 people have died and at least 40 others have lost their eyesight here in the Libyan capital after drinking a contaminated locally-made alcohol called "Bokha", officials said Tuesday.
Around 550 other people have suffered from poisonous effects after drinking the alcohol, health ministry spokesman Amar Surmani told Xinhua.
Some families requested the government to send the patients to Tunisia for better treatment, but 13 patients died on the way to Tunisia, he said.
The alcohol contained methanol, which leads to blindness, kidney failure or epileptic seizures, Surmani said.
Reports said the "Bokha" was purchased in different areas in the capital and its suburbs. "Bokha" is distilled from various fruits like figs, dates and grapes.
Some of the patients are said to be in critical condition.
Hospitals and doctors throughout Tripoli and its suburbs are now on emergency standby.
The health ministry has urged citizens not to drink alcohol as it not only contravenes the laws of Islam but is also harmful to health.
Consumption and sale of alcohol is illegal in Libya, but is available in the black market. (IANS)