Iraq: 92 people dead after fire breaks out on hospital Covid ward

At least 92 people have died in southern Iraq after a fire broke out in a hospital on a coronavirus ward on Monday evening. The new ward had opened just three months ago and contained 70 beds as ITV News reported. 

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has ordered the arrest of the head of the hospital, according to reports. Officials say all those who died suffered severe burns during the fire at al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the city of Nasiryah. 

They estimate more than 100 people were also injured. The officials said the fire was caused by an electric short circuit, but no further information was given. Another health official said the fire erupted when an oxygen cylinder exploded. 

Major General Khalid Bohan, head of Iraq’s civil defence, said in comments to the press that the building was constructed from flammable materials and prone to fire. 

It was the second time a large fire has killed coronavirus patients in an Iraqi hospital this year. At least 82 people died at Ibn al-Khateeb hospital in Baghdad in April when an oxygen tank exploded, sparking the blaze. 

That incident brought to light widespread negligence and systemic mismanagement in Iraq’s hospitals. Doctors have decried lax safety rules, especially around oxygen cylinders. Iraq is in the midst of another severe Covid-19 wave. Daily coronavirus rates peaked last week at 9,000 new cases.

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