41 killed in fire at Iraqi hospital treating COVID-19 patients
At least 41 people have been killed in a hospital fire in the southeastern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, Dr. Ammar al-Zamili, the spokesperson for the local health department, told CNN.
At least five people were critically injured.
The fire on Monday night is believed to have started after oxygen tanks exploded in an ICU treating Covid-19 patients, al-Zamili said.
“The civil defense teams managed to control and put out the major fire that broke out at al-Hussein hospital in the city with the help of health workers and neighborhood volunteers,” al-Zamili told CNN.
Al-Zamili and other health officials could not say how many people were inside the building when the fire broke out but said an operation is continuing to evacuate people “if they are still alive,” including health workers.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi will hold an emergency meeting with a number of ministers and security commanders “to find out the causes and repercussions” of the deadly fire, his office said Tuesday morning.
Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi tweeted the fire shows a failure to protect lives “and it is time to put an end to this catastrophic failure, and Parliament will shift today’s session to examine options regarding what happened.”
Al-Hussein Hospital was set up to treat Covid-19 patients at the start of the pandemic and has quarantine stations on site.
In April, at least 82 people were killed in a huge fire at a Covid-19 hospital in Baghdad. That fire had started after oxygen tanks exploded in the Covid-19 ICU.
Nasiriya, in Dhi Qar province, is about 360 kilometers (225 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
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