Overnight blaze at Baghdad hospital kills 13 newborn babies

Published 10.08.2016 00:00
Updated 10.08.2016 15:08

At least 13 newborn babies are dead after a fire Wednesday at a hospital in Baghdad, according to Iraq's Health Ministry.

A total of 24 women and seven newborn babies were rescued from the blaze, according to a statement by the Health Ministry's media sector. It did not report their current state.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Wednesday inside a corridor of the maternity ward of al-Yarmouk hospital, which lies in central Baghdad, the statement added.

Civil defence forces managed to extinguish the fire. The initial investigation indicated the incident was caused by an electrical short circuit, the ministry said.

The Health Ministry had earlier reported that 12 newborn babies were killed, while seven others, along with 29 women, were injured in the incident and evacuated to nearby hospitals.

One father, 30-year-old Hussein Omar, a construction worker, said he lost twins in the blaze, a baby boy and a girl born last week. The hospital told him to go look for them at another Baghdad hospital where some of the patients were moved to during the fire.

He said he looked and couldn't find them anywhere so he came back to Yarmouk. The hospital staff then told him to go look at the morgue.

"I only found charred pieces of flesh," Omar said, crying. "I want my baby boy and girl back. The government must give them back to me."

Eshrak Ahmed Jaasar, 41, said she is unable to find her four-day-old nephew.

"I came early this morning to see my nephew and his mother, but they told me about the fire," Jasaar said. "My nephew is still missing and his mother was moved to another hospital ward."

She said she was still in shock and felt very bitter.

"We pay the hospital employees thousands of Iraqi dinars to allow us in to get our loved ones basic food and milk, which they cannot provide," Jasaar said. "It's a corrupt government that doesn't care about its citizens and lets this happen."

Electrical fires are common in the Iraqi capital and elsewhere across the country because of shoddy maintenance and poor wiring. A lack of fire escapes also contributes to the danger whenever a fire breaks out. There is also widespread failure by construction companies and those providing building material to follow accepted standards.

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