Approximately 90% of the cargo of a barge that capsized in the Nile last Tuesday has been removed from the river, according to a statement dispatched from the office of the Environment Minister.
An estimated 500 tonnes of phosphate submerged near the Upper Egypt governorate of Qena, when the barge transporting the chemical material capsized after colliding with the Dandara Bridge.
Health Minister Adel Al-Adawi stated Wednesday that the amount of phosphate in the Nile water does not exceed levels that would make it unsafe to drink, though the government suggested there could be environmental impacts.
A team from the health ministry found samples from where the boat sank measuring at 0.5 mg of phosphorus, not exceeding the 2 mg per litre limit. The samples were also negative for toxic amounts of phosphate at Al-Taramsah, Al-Marashda, Al-Waqf, Al-Waqf Al-Gadeeda and Deshna.
Government officials have denied that there is any link between the phosphate and the poisoning of approximately 500 people in Sharqeya, reportedly from drinking water. Qena in Upper Egypt is roughly 700 km from the governorate of Sharqeya.
Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy’s Saturday statement said that the sunken barge has now been extracted to a safe location. Using military equipment, the suction process has extracted 90% of the sunken phosphate through pumps and piping.
The statement maintains that water samples are taken regularly in different areas to ensure the safety of water and conformity to levels regulated by law.