Iraq: 50 died in a fire in Covid ward of Nasiriya hospital
By Haydar Karaalp and Mehmet Nuri Ucar
BAGHDAD (AA) – More than 50 people died and many injured in a fire that engulfed the Covid-19 isolation ward of a hospital in southern Iraq, the Iraqi Health Ministry said early Tuesday.
The fire at Al-Hussein Hospital in Nasiriya city in Dhi Qar governorate was caused by the misuse of oxygen cylinders.
Local civil defense forces announced that firefighters had brought the blaze under control.
Iraqi officials said the cause of the blaze at the al-Hussein Teaching Hospital was an electric short circuit.
Other officials said said the fire was triggered by an oxygen tank explosion in an ICU ward.
The hospital’s 70-bed coronavirus ward opened just three months ago.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held an emergency meeting with some ministers and security officials to discuss the fire, according to a statement from the press office of the prime minister.
Following the meeting, Dhi Qar Governor Ahmed al-Khafaji issued a statement saying it was decided to form a high-level committee to investigate the exact cause of the fire and to present a final report to the public within 48 hours.
The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi, tweeted that the fire was “clear proof of the failure to protect Iraqi lives, and it is time to put an end to this catastrophic failure” and said “Parliament will shift today’s session to examine options regarding what happened.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in a tweet said his office was holding an emergency meeting to discuss “the causes and implications” of the incident.
A state of mourning has been declared in Dhi Qar governorate for those who lost their lives in the fire and official working hours were suspended for three days from Tuesday.
A previous statement said that five others were injured in the fire.
Earlier Monday, a fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Ministry of Health in central Baghdad.
A fire in the Ibn al-Khateeb hospital in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad in April,which was sparked by an oxygen tank explosion, left at least 82 people dead, and injured 110.
Additional report by The Muslim News
[Photo: Smoke rises after fire broke out in a COVID-19 ICU ward of Al-Hussein Hospital in Nasiriya city in Dhi Qar governorate, Iraq on July 13, 2021. Photographer: Arshad Mohammed/AA]
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