News24

Poison fish kills 12 in S Leone

2010-04-14 21:04

Freetown - Twelve people have died after eating fish from a river in southern Sierra Leone which is believed to have been poisoned by fishermen using toxic herbs to stun their catch, officials said on Wednesday.

"Most of the deaths occurred within the past 72 hours," said Dr Alfred Musa, head of the Pujehun District Hospital, 115km from Sulima where the people died.

Musa said health officials in the capital Freetown had rushed emergency drugs to the area and a team of Nigerian doctors stationed in the area were providing assistance.

A community health officer told AFP on condition of anonymity that about 100 people had been treated for poisoning which had been traced back to contamination of the river by Ghanaian fishermen with toxic herbs.

"We have sent samples of the contaminated water for laboratory testing in the capital," he added.

Town chief Sheka Massaquoi said "3 000 people have fled the area to other villages."

"Fishermen had the practice of putting poisonous native herbs into the river to intoxicate fish so that they can be caught easily. Victims who eat such fish vomit persistently and end up having diarrhoea."

He said he had ordered "all fishing activities halted for the time being".

Two of the dead are believed to be children under 5.