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Minggu, 25 April 2021

Fire tears through COVID hospital in Baghdad killing at least 27 patients - ABC News

The Iraqi government has confirmed that a fire sparked by an oxygen tank explosion killed at least 82 people and injured 110 at a hospital in Baghdad that had been equipped to house COVID-19 patients. 

Firefighters rushed to put out the flames and clear out patients at the Ibn al-Khatib hospital, which provides care for severe coronavirus patients in its intensive care unit. 

"We urgently need to review safety measures at all hospitals to prevent such a painful incident from happening in future," spokesman Khalid al-Muhanna told state television, announcing the toll.

There were at least 120 patients in the hospital at the time of the fire, a doctor at the hospital said.

Surviving 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.

'Doctors fell on the cars'

Two men are in a charred hospital and look on with their t-shirts placed around their mouths.
The total death toll from the fire has not yet been determined.(

Reuters: Thaier Al-Sudan

)

Videos on social media showed chaos inside the smoke-filled corridors of the hospital in southern Baghdad as patients and their families tried to flee the building.

A man who had been visiting his brother described people jumping out of windows to escape.

"I found a girl suffocating, about 19 years old, she was suffocating, she was about to die," Ahmed Zaki said.

"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 [the top floor], got people and come down again."

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Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has suspended Iraq's Health Minister and has referred him to 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.

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Iraq's healthcare system, ruined by decades of sanctions, war and neglect, has been stretched thin during the coronavirus crisis. 

Security has improved in recent years but Iraq still suffers from political violence, including militia rocket attacks on foreign forces and a low-level Islamic State 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.

Iraq struggling to contain severe COVID wave

The country is also grappling with a severe COVID-19 wave. 

Daily coronavirus rates now average above 8,000 new cases, the highest since the pandemic broke out in the country last year.

The country has recorded a total of 102,5288 infections, including 15,217 deaths, the health ministry said on Saturday.

The government is urging the public to get vaccinated, but demand has been low due to widespread mistrust of the health care system and the vaccines in particular.

ABC/wires

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2021-04-25 01:12:57Z
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