At least 82 people were killed in a fire that was sparked by an oxygen tank explosion in a COVID-19 hospital in Baghdad, Iraq's Interior Ministry said Sunday, adding that 110 people were injured.
Initially, the number was said to be at 28 but got quickly marked up to 58 by Ali Bayati, a member of Iraq's Human Rights Commission.
The fire erupted on Saturday at the Ibn Khatib Hospital in the Diyala Bridge area.
The head of the Iraqi civil defense unit, Maj. Gen. Kadhim Bohan, was quoted by the Iraqi News Agency (INA) as saying that 90 people had been rescued out of the 120 who were in the pulmonary intensive care unit.
Patients' relatives scrambled during the blaze to save their loved ones.
A man who had been visiting his brother described people jumping out of windows to escape.
"The fire spread, like fuel ... I took my brother out to the street, next to the checkpoint. Then I came (back) and went up from there. To the last floor, that did not burn. I found a girl suffocating, about 19 years old, she was suffocating, she was about to die," said Ahmed Zaki.
"I took her on my shoulders and I ran down. People were jumping ... Doctors fell on the cars. Everyone was jumping. And I kept going up from there, got people and come down again,” Zaki said.
Patients were moved to other hospitals, medical sources said. But several families were still at the hospital hours after the fire had been extinguished, after failing to find them elsewhere.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered an investigation.
"Such an incident is evidence of negligence and therefore I directed that an investigation be launched immediately and for the hospital's manager and the heads of security and maintenance to be detained along with all those concerned until we identify those negligent and hold them accountable," he said in a statement.
In a press release on Sunday, Turkey extended condolences and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
Iraq's health care system, ruined by decades of sanctions, war and neglect, has been stretched during the coronavirus crisis. The country has recorded a total of 102,5288 infections, including 15,217 deaths, the Health Ministry said Saturday.
Security has improved in recent years, but Iraq still suffers from political violence, including militia rocket attacks on foreign forces and a low-level Daesh insurgency.
Accidents due to neglect and wrecked infrastructure have compounded the woes of ordinary Iraqis.
In 2019, at least 90 people died when an overloaded ferry carrying families on an outing sank in the Tigris river in the northern city of Mosul.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.