At least 52 patients from a hospital in Nassyrie, southern Iraq, died on Monday (12) in a fire at the Covid-19 treatment unit, authorities said two months after a Similar tragedy claimed more than 80 lives in Baghdad.
The provisional death toll stands at 52 dead and 22 injured, local health authority spokesman Haydar al Zamili told AFP. He added that the area of Al Hussein hospital, ravaged by the flames, had 70 beds.
The head of government, Mustafa al Kazimi, urgently called on ministers and security officials to “examine the causes and consequences of the fire,” his office said on Twitter.
According to the message, the police questioned the director of the hospital and the head of civil defense of Dhi Qar province, on which Nassyria depends and who declared a state of emergency.
“The victims are being burned alive and the search continues” for possible survivors, Al Zamili said.
In several videos shared on social networks, it is possible to see scenes of chaos and huge spirals of black smoke coming out of the hospital.
According to a source from the provincial health department, the fire was caused by the explosion of oxygen cylinders. The same thing happened in the April tragedy at a Baghdad hospital, which left more than 80 people dead.
In Nassyrie, hundreds of people came to the scene to help firefighters and first responders, an AFP correspondent noted.
According to a medical source, 20 patients were able to be evacuated from the burning facilities.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry reported on Facebook that the fire broke out in temporary structures erected near the facility, but did not specify the source of the accident.
The disaster sparked outrage in the city, where hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital shouting “political parties are burning us!”
“The Al Hussein hospital disaster is clear evidence (of the failure) to protect the lives of Iraqis and it is time to end this catastrophic failure,” Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohamed al Halbusi wrote on Twitter. , which indicated that the deputies would deal with question this Tuesday (13).
“This is yet another humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq. The prime minister should resign immediately,” tweeted Iraqi doctor Abdullah al Bayati.
The similar case in April was caused by a series of negligence that angered Iraqis and led to the resignation of the Minister of Health.
Most Iraqi hospitals are in a deplorable state and the healthcare system has been in ruins for years, eroded by economic hardship and corruption. A fire also broke out on Monday at the Baghdad health ministry, causing no casualties.
Iraq has recorded more than 1.4 million coronavirus infections and the epidemic has claimed more than 17,000 deaths.