BAGHDAD—Exploding oxygen canisters sparked a hearth that engulfed a Baghdad hospital treating Covid-19 sufferers, killing at the least 82 folks, Iraqi officers stated on Sunday.
The hearth started late Saturday evening after oxygen canisters ignited in a hospital ward stuffed with coronavirus sufferers being handled with ventilators, setting off a scramble to evacuate greater than 200 folks from the hospital, Iraqi well being and civil protection officers stated.
A spokesman for Iraq’s inside ministry stated 82 folks have been killed and 110 folks have been injured in the fireplace.
In an emergency in a single day assembly with senior authorities officers, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi referred to as the fireplace a “painful incident” attributable to negligence. He referred to as for senior hospital and well being ministry officers to be questioned by investigators, and ordered different amenities to be checked to stop future disasters.
“Go and check every single wire in every office and hospital,” he stated in keeping with a press release from his workplace. He additionally declared three days of nationwide mourning.
Mr. Kadhimi suspended the nation’s well being minister and the governor of Baghdad for 5 days whereas an investigation into the incident is ongoing, the prime minister’s workplace stated.
The hospital’s director was ordered detained throughout the investigation, in keeping with Iraqi judicial authorities.
“Our hearts still feel the pain of the loss of the lives of our people,” Iraq’s President Barhim Salih stated in a press release.
The head of Iraq’s civil protection,
Gen. Kadhim Bohan,
stated the fireplace started on the second ground intensive-care unit of Baghdad’s Ibn al-Khatib hospital late Saturday evening. The three-story constructing lacked an automatic fire-extinguishing system, he stated.
That ground of the hospital was stuffed with Covid-19 sufferers on ventilators, which made them tough to maneuver, contributing to the excessive dying toll, Mr. Bohan instructed state tv.
Fires in Covid-19 hospitals have added to the devastating human toll of the pandemic, as well being amenities have been pushed to position rising numbers of sufferers on ventilators.
A fireplace in a hospital close to Mumbai in India killed at the least 13 folks final week. Two separate hospital fires in Romania, one in November and one in January, killed a complete of at the least 15 folks.
The pandemic has additionally strained global supplies of bottled oxygen, forcing authorities to ration provides in varied international locations.
The hearth in Baghdad has induced an outcry inside Iraq, with the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, a state establishment, calling for the nation’s well being minister, Hassan al-Tamimi, to be fired.
A member of the fee instructed state TV on Sunday that officers have been nonetheless working to determine the charred our bodies recovered from the fireplace. The fee referred to as the incident against the law in opposition to coronavirus sufferers.
Iraq’s cupboard allotted 10 million Iraqi dinars, equal to about $6,500, in compensation to every sufferer’s household.
Iraq’s hospitals are underneath deep pressure on account of a current surge in coronavirus circumstances, which have been on the rise since February, when officers stated that they had detected the fast-spreading variant of the virus first discovered in the U.K.
Infections have spiked in current weeks, pushing Iraq’s every day case totals to document ranges, a median of greater than 7,000 a day.
Iraq has reported greater than one million circumstances of the virus and greater than 15,200 deaths for the reason that pandemic started.
The nation launched its vaccination marketing campaign final month after receiving 336,000 doses of
coronavirus shot by way of Covax, the worldwide program for sharing vaccines. Iraq additionally acquired 50,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine.
The U.S., United Nations, and varied neighboring international locations expressed condolences to Iraq on Sunday over the tragedy.
“The United States offers its deepest condolences to the victims and their families in the Ibn al-Khatib hospital fire in Baghdad last night,” the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad stated in a tweet. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and we hope for a speedy recovery for the injured.”
Write to Jared Malsin at [email protected]
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