14 Egyptians drown during Sham El-Nessim festival, 45 treated for food poisoning

Fourteen Egyptians died in various drowning incidents nationwide on Monday as the country celebrated the Ancient Egyptian Sham El-Nessim festival, with another 45 people treated for food poisoning linked to the celebrations, the health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed provided figures for the dead and sick in his statement, but he did not specify the circumstances of the drowning incidents or their locations.

However, past Sham El-Nessim celebrations, which see Egyptians enjoying group outings and picnics, have witnessed numerous cases of drowning, often involving poorly planned boating trips on the River Nile and in coastal areas.

According to the ministry statement, 23 people received hospital treatment for food poisoning and were later discharged, while another 22 are still in hospital.

Food poisoning is common during the annual festival, in part due to traditional fish dishes, particularly fesikh, that have been poorly prepared or stored.

Sham El-Nessim, Arabic for “inhaling the breeze”, is a celebration linked to Ancient Egypt, and is celebrated by Egyptians of all faith backgrounds. It always falls the day after Easter Sunday in the Coptic Christian calendar.

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