Fifty-three people in the town of Sansafat in Egypt’s Menoufiya governorate were hospitalised on Tuesday after drinking poisoned drinking water.
Angry citizens confronted Health Minister Mohamed Mustafa at the Manouf hospital, where the victims are undergoing treatment.
The health minister and Ashraf Hilal, the governor of Menoufiya, were then held hostage by the victims' families in the hospital for 45 minutes before being released by the police.
The minister was also given a bottle of polluted water by one angry resident to show him what had caused the sickness.
In response, Mustafa called for the closure all unlicensed water stations in the affected governorate.
A primary analysis of the water found it had not been purified with chlorine, according to Amr Qandil, head of the preventive medicine at the health ministry.
In 2008, Al-Ahram newspaper cited a study by Cairo University’s National Toxicology Centre which claimed that a half-million Egyptians suffer from various degrees of poisoning due to high levels of toxins in their drinking water.