Iraqi health officials: 64 dead in fire at coronavirus ward | Nation & World

BAGHDAD (AP) — The loss of life toll from a catastrophic blaze that erupted at a coronavirus hospital ward in southern Iraq the day past rose to 64 on Tuesday, Iraqi medical officers stated.

Two well being officers stated greater than 100 folks have been additionally injured within the fireplace that torched the coronavirus ward of al-Hussein Instructing Hospital within the metropolis of Nasiriyah on Monday.

Anguished kin have been nonetheless searching for traces of their family members on Tuesday morning, looking out by way of the particles of charred blankets and belongings contained in the torched stays of the ward. A blackened cranium of a deceased feminine affected person from the ward was discovered.

Many cried brazenly, their tears tinged with anger, blaming each the provincial authorities of Dhi Qar, the place Nasiriyah is positioned, and the federal authorities in Baghdad for years of mismanagement and neglect.

“The entire state system has collapsed, and who paid the worth? The folks inside right here. These folks have paid the worth,” stated Haidar al-Askari, who was on the scene of the blaze.

In a single day, firefighters and rescuers — many with simply flashlights and utilizing blankets to extinguish small fires nonetheless smoldering in locations — had frantically labored looking out by way of the ward within the darkness. As daybreak broke, our bodies coated with sheets have been laid on the bottom exterior the hospital.

Earlier, officers had stated the fireplace was attributable to an electrical quick circuit, however offered no extra particulars. One other official stated the blaze erupted when an oxygen cylinder exploded. The officers spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk to journalists.

The brand new ward, opened simply three months in the past, contained 70 beds.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi chaired an emergency assembly within the wake of the fireplace and ordered the suspension and arrest of the well being director in Dhi Qar, in addition to the director of the hospital and the town’s director of civil protection. A authorities investigation was additionally launched.

Within the close by Shiite holy metropolis of Najaf, mourners ready to bury among the victims.

It was the second time a big fireplace killed coronavirus sufferers in an Iraqi hospital this yr. Not less than 82 folks died at Ibn al-Khateeb hospital in Baghdad in April, when an oxygen tank exploded, sparking the blaze.

That incident delivered to gentle widespread negligence and systemic mismanagement in Iraq’s hospitals. Docs have decried lax security guidelines, particularly across the oxygen cylinders.

On Monday, Ammar al-Zamili, spokesman for the Dhi Qar well being division, informed native media that there have been not less than 63 sufferers contained in the ward when the fireplace started. Maj. Gen. Khalid Bohan, head of Iraq’s civil protection, stated in feedback to the press that the constructing was constructed from flammable supplies and inclined to fireside.

Iraq is within the midst of one other extreme COVID-19 surge. Day by day coronavirus charges peaked final week at 9,000 new instances. After a long time of struggle and sanctions, Iraq’s well being sector has struggled to include the virus. Over 17,000 folks have died of the virus amongst 1.4 million confirmed instances because the begin of the pandemic.

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