Horrifying fire at Iraqi Covid hospital kills 21
Baghdad, Iraq: According to medical and security sources, at least 23 people were killed when a fire broke out in a coronavirus intensive care unit in Baghdad.
According to medical reports, the explosion was caused by "a flaw in the handling of oxygen cylinders," and several dozen people were also injured.
An eyewitness who was visiting his brother at the time of the fire described people jumping out of windows as the fire, sparked by the explosion of an oxygen tank, spread rapidly across the COVID-19-equipped unit, Reuters reported.
Social media videos showed firefighters attempting to extinguish flames at the Ibn al-Khatib hospital on the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad as patients and their relatives fled the site.
According to a Reuters photographer nearby, several ambulances were running towards the hospital, transporting those injured in the blast.
According to medical reports, patients who were not involved in the incident were also being moved out of the hospital.
According to Iraqi state media, the civil defense "rescued 90 people out of 120 patients and their families" at the scene, but the exact number of dead and injured was not disclosed.
IRAQI HOSPITAL FIRE WAS CAUSED FORM OXYGEN CYLINDER MANHANDLING (IMAGE COURTESY OF ALEXANDRA HALABY VIA TWITTER)
Some reports claim the number of dead could be as high as 80, although We The World Magazine cannot independently verify the same.
An investigation was ordered by the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the early hours of Sunday, Reuters reported.
"Such an incident is evidence of negligence and therefore I directed that an investigation be launched immediately and for the hospital's management 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.
The number of Covid-19 cases in Iraq reached one million on Wednesday, with the health ministry reporting 1,025,288 cases and 15,217 deaths since the first infections were registered in the country in February 2020.
According to the ministry, it conducts approximately 40,000 tests a day on a population of 40 million people.
Iraq's hospitals have been broken down by decades of violence and inadequate funding, resulting in medication and hospital bed shortages.
Patients would also choose to obtain oxygen tanks for home care rather than visit overcrowded and run-down hospitals.