The death toll from the fire at a hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah to treat isolated COVID-19 patients has risen to 64 and another 50 people have been injured, according to official sources.
“The death toll from the burning of the isolation center at Iman al-Hussein Hospital rose to 64 and injured 50,” said the official Iraqi news agency INA.
The first investigations indicate that the fire was caused by the explosion of an oxygen cylinder in the health center and the victims perished from suffocation and other causes, according to state television Al Iraquiya.
Iraqi President Barham Saleh has stated on his Twitter account that “the disaster at the Al Hussein hospital in Di Qar province and previously at the Ibn al Khatib hospital in Baghdad, is the result of corruption and mismanagement that it underestimates the lives of Iraqis and impedes the performance of institutions. ”
Saleh has made reference to the tragedy that occurred last April in the Al Jatib hospital, in the southeast of the capital Baghdad, when oxygen cylinders destined for COVID-19 patients also exploded, causing a large fire that caused death. 82 people and wounded more than a hundred.
“The investigation and harsh punishment of the negligent is the comfort” of the victims and their families, the president has said. “We need to do a strict review of the work of the institutions and protect citizens.”
Last night, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kazemi held an emergency meeting with several members of his cabinet to address what happened, according to a statement from his office.
Shortly after the event, the director of Health of the province of Di Qar, Sadam al Tawil, resigned and the provincial government decreed three days of mourning.
Iraq is now experiencing a rebound in COVID-19 cases with 9,000 daily infections officially reported and with only 1% of its population vaccinated.