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No connection between Egypt's Nile phosphate accident and poisoning cases: Minister

Hundreds of poisoning cases appeared shortly after a barge carrying phosphate capsized in the Nile; ministry says cases unconnected

Ahram Online , Saturday 25 Apr 2015
Hossam Moghazi
Egypt's minister of water and irrigation Hossam Moghazi (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's minister of water and irrigation has denied any connection between cases of poisoning in the Nile Delta city of Sharqiya and the sinking of a barge in the Nile carrying phosphate.

Hossam Moghazi said samples taken from the main lake that feeds the water supply to Sharqiya governorate proved potable with no contaminants.

On Tuesday, a barge carrying 500 tons of phosphate capsised in Upper Egypt’s Qena, sparking fears among Egyptians over contamination of their primary source of drinking water.

On Friday, some 379 people in Sharqiya were hospitalised showing symptoms of poisoning, with polluted water becoming the main suspected cause.

Commenting on the incident Friday, Moghazi said the Nile passes seven cities between Qena and Sharqiya, the website of state television reported.

None of the seven cities witnessed complaints of poisoning, he said.

Any contamination would take 12 days to pass from Upper Egypt to the Nile Delta, while in this case only three days had passed, setting the two incidents apart, Moghazi added.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Adel Adawy said his ministry is taking samples from the Nile every 12 hours and is on high alert for emergencies.

Egypt is heavily dependent on the Nile River, from which it gets 55 billion cubic metres of water annually.

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