The death toll so far during Cairo's days of protests is much higher than reported in the news, according to doctors at one of Cairo's largest hospitals.
A resident doctor at the hospital who was assisting with surgeries yesterday told Al-Masry Al-Youm today that most of those admitted were not wounded, but dead. He estimated the number at more than 50.
The doctor said the wounds were from live bullets, not rubber bullets, and most appeared to be aimed at the head and heart, leading him to believe that orders to the riot police were to kill, not injure, the tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets in anti-government protests this week.
"I rarely saw rubber bullet wounds," he said.
Attempts to reach the wounded in the mass protests–which were instantly cordoned off by the city's massive number of riot police–were inhibited by the crowds.
A doctor who attended yesterday's protests, who asked that her name be withheld, said it took some two hours for ambulances to reach the wounded around her. At Tahrir Square she saw a child caught in the tear gas explosions; later she was told that the child, like many others exposed to massive amounts of gas, had suffocated to death.
Lack of cell phone reception and internet access, both cut by the government to hinder the organizing of protesters, has only compounded the difficulty of responding to emergencies.
Deaths from live bullets aside, the use of rubber bullets can be just as serious. Shot from as close a range as the riot police were to protesters, they easily pierce the skin and organs. Furthermore, because police were shooting at the head, eyes, and chest, rather than at non-fatal body parts, casualties rose, according to the same doctor.
At the hospital, this reporter was approached by a young female doctor who also asked to remain anonymous. "Write in your newspaper that we need the army to come to the hospital," she said. "There is no one here protecting the doctors, and it's turning into chaos inside."