Three days of national mourning declared after the blaze at Iraq hospital
At least 58 people died in a catastrophic fire that broke out in a Baghdad hospital, Iraq’s Independent High Commission for Human Rights said on Sunday.
The blaze on Sunday at the Ibn al-Khatib Hospital in the Iraqi capital was caused by an accidental oxygen tank explosion, according to medical sources.
“I don’t know how many victims there are, there are so many burned bodies all over the place,” Dr. Sabah al-Kuzaie, who was present at the scene, told the AP. “The majority of the victims died because they had to be moved and were taken off ventilators, while the others were suffocated by the smoke,” a civil defense official told AFP news agency.
According to reports, there were at least 120 patients in the hospitals when the fire started.
Iraq’s health ministry said it had “saved more than 200 patients”, and promised an official toll of the dead and wounded.
Baghdad Governor Mohammed Jaber called on the health ministry “to establish a commission of inquiry so that those who did not do their jobs may be brought to justice”.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered an investigation into the deadly blaze and declared three days of national mourning.
“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.
UN expresses shock at tragic incident
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, expresses shock and pain at the enormity of the tragic incident that befell COVID-19 patients at the Ibn Khatib hospital in Baghdad Saturday night. She offers her deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and wishes the injured a full and speedy recovery.
The Special Representative calls for stronger protection measures to ensure that such a disaster cannot reoccur.
The UN continues to provide critical support to Iraq’s health sector amid the pandemic and surging infections, and stands ready to further assist the health authorities in combating the disease.