Baghdad hospital fire kills 82, Iraqi interior minister says

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The Iraqi interior ministry said on Sunday that 82 people had died and 110 were injured in a catastrophic fire that broke out in the intensive care unit of a Baghdad hospital treating patients with severe coronavirus.

The negligence on the part of the hospital authorities was blamed on the fire on Saturday evening, which, according to the first reports, was caused by the explosion of an oxygen cylinder in the ward of the Ibn al-hospital. Khatib. The Iraqi prime minister sacked key hospital officials hours after the catastrophic incident.

Among the dead were at least 28 ventilator patients struggling with severe symptoms of the virus, tweeted Ali al-Bayati, a spokesperson for the country’s Independent Human Rights Commission. The commission is a semi-official body.

Firefighters rushed to fight the raging flames on the second floor of the hospital. Civil protection teams extinguished the flames until the wee hours of the morning.

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Ambulances transported dozens of wounded. The health ministry said at least 200 people were rescued from the scene.

The doctors present at the scene were exhausted by the chaos that unfolded around them. They said many burned bodies were taken away by paramedics from the hospital.

The fire came as Iraq grapples with a severe second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Daily virus cases on average are now around 8,000, the highest since Iraq began recording infection rates early last year. At least 15,200 people have died from the coronavirus in Iraq out of a total of at least 100,000 confirmed cases.

In response to the fire, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sacked the director general of the Baghdad Health Department in the al-Rusafa area, where the hospital is located. He also fired hospital director Ibh al-Khatib and his director of engineering and maintenance, according to a statement from the health ministry and its office.

After the fire started, Al-Khadhimi held an emergency meeting at the headquarters of the Baghdad operations command, which coordinates Iraqi security forces, according to a statement posted on his Twitter account.

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At the meeting, he said the incident amounted to negligence.

“Negligence in such matters is not a mistake, but a crime for which all negligent parties must take responsibility,” he said. He gave the Iraqi authorities 24 hours to present the results of an investigation.

The UN envoy to Iraq, Jeannine Hennis-Plasschaert, expressed “shock and pain” over the incident in a statement and called for stronger protective measures in hospitals.

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