Hundreds of Egyptians suffered poisoning symptoms and a 54-year-old man died, in the city of Sharkia, on the east side of the Nile. Hospitals around the city received 579 people and continues to treat all incoming patients.
The incident comes two days after a cargo ship sank near Qena while delivering 500 tons of solid phosphate from Aswan (Upper Egypt) to Cairo. Most cases were in El Ibrahimia town, government officials pushed for extra ambulance vans and trained paramedics all over Sharkia to control the outbreak, according to Al Youm Al Sabea news website.
Hospital tests confirmed the symptoms are of water poisoning, however the vice president of the Egyptian Water Holding Company Shaker Abdul Fattah said testing the drinking water in Sharkia showed nothing wrong with it, normal chlorine levels comply with “the international standards for safe drinking water.” The 54-year-old man, Ahmed Kamal Zaki suffered escalated symptoms that greatly strained his heart muscles causing his death in the intensive care unit, and his body is still under forensic inspection to confirm cause of death, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Health.
Before the man’s death, the Egyptian minister of irrigation and water resources Hussam Mughazi had previously issued an official statement on Friday, saying the poisoning cases in Sharkia has nothing to do with the phosphate spill, confirming that water testing in the ministry shows the water as “safe to drink.”
The statement added: “Even if the phosphate water caused this crisis, it takes the water from Qena (upper Egypt) 12 days to ultimately reach Sharkia, during which it should have passed by a number of other governorates.” Mughazi said the ministry is cooperating with all concerned parties to know “the real reason” behind the Sharkia poisoning incident. Meanwhile in Sharkia, Mosques microphones are being used for public announcements regarding the crises, and urging everyone to start using bottled water rather than tap water, according to Al Masry Al youm.