At least 60 Covid-19 patients die in fire at Iraq hospital

Baghdad, Apr 25 (EFE).- A fire in a Baghdad Covid-19 hospital has killed at least 60 coronavirus patients, an Iraq interior ministry official said Sunday.

The fire at the Ibn al-Khatib hospital erupted late Saturday due to an explosion of oxygen cylinders, the lieutenant colonal rank official told EFE, requesting anonymity.

Most of the patients died “due to suffocation” after the explosion sparked a massive blaze at the health center in the south of the Iraqi capital, the official said, fearing that the toll might increase.

The Iraqi authorities have not confirmed the casualty figure.

The authorities had dedicated the 120-bed hospital exclusively for coronavirus patients.

The state-run Iraqi News Agency said preliminary investigations indicate that the fire was caused either by a short circuit or the explosion of oxygen cylinders.

Dozens of firefighters put out the flames and evacuated patients at the hospital.

The Iraqi Civil Defense, in a statement, said that they rescued about 90 patients.

The statement added that dozens of residents from the area came in to aid in the evacuation of patients, most of them elderly and on respiratory support.

Such incidents are rare in Iraq, even as the war-ravaged country suffers from the poor healthcare infrastructure severely damaged in the decades-old armed conflict.

Iraq’s human rights commission has asked the government to fix the responsibility for the deadly blaze incident.

The rights body demanded the resignation of the health minister. It noted that the healthcare system of the country was ailing with deficiencies.

Prime Minister Mustafa al Kazemi has ordered an investigation to know the cause of the fire, his office said.

The prime minister has dismissed several officials at the hospital, including the director and the maintenance chief.

Iraq has the highest number of coronavirus infections in the Middle East.

The country has so far registered nearly 1.2 million Covid-19 patients, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 15,000 patients have lost their lives to the virus in Iraq. EFE


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