Over 90 dead as fire engulfs coronavirus hospital in Iraq - GulfToday

Over 90 dead as fire engulfs coronavirus hospital in Iraq


Iraqis mourn relatives who died in a massive fire which engulfed a coronavirus isolation ward of Al Hussein Hospital, during their funeral in Najaf, on Tuesday. AFP

Gulf Today Report

Fires in hospitals, which are supposed to help a patient recover not die, are as much tragic incidents as deplorable. Unfortunately, in this regard Baghdad seems to have a sorry record.

In April, an oxygen tank blast at a hospital for coronavirus patients in Baghdad claimed at least 82 lives; several people even jumped out of the windows of the burning building.


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Now, in what looks like a shocking repeat, at least 92 people were feared dead after an oxygen tank exploded at a hospital for COVID-19 patients in Iraq’s southern city of Nassiriyah.

The death toll in coronavirus hospital fire has risen to 92 after some wounded people died from severe burns, state news agency INA and health officials said on Tuesday.

More than 100 others were injured in the blaze, which an investigation showed began when sparks from faulty wiring spread to an oxygen tank that then exploded.

A man stands amid the gutted remains of a ward in Al Hussein hospital after the fire. AFP

Devastated health workers rushed in to remove the badly affected patients out of the wards while many patients were coughing a lot because of the smoke.

Operations to search for more possible survivors of the Al-Hussain coronavirus hospital were under way after the fire was brought under control.

However, the pall of thick smoke was hindering such actions.

Many patients were trapped inside the coronavirus wards and workers at the hospital were desperately trying to take them out.

Furious relatives of the patients clashed with police, and set two police cars ablaze.

Mourners attend the funeral of victims of the fire in Najaf on Tuesday. Reuters

In an instant crackdown on the culprits, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi held an emergency meet on the issue and ordered the suspension and arrest of health and civil defence managers in Nassiriya.

He also ordered the arrest of the manager of the hospital.

Firevictim-Iraq-750x450Men carry stretchers with body bags containing the remains of victims after a fire broke out at Al Hussein Hospital. Reuters

Already crumbling under the onslaught of war and sanctions, Iraq's healthcare system is creaking under the weight of the coronavirus crisis, which has killed more than 17,000 people and infected over a million.

A hospital guard called Ali Muhsin, who was helping carry wounded patients out of the blaze, said he heard the sound of a huge explosion inside the coronavirus wards and then saw the fire spread very fast.

Five years ago, 13 babies born prematurely were consumed in a blaze that broke out in a maternity ward in Baghdad’s Yarmuk hospital.




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