By Ahmed Rasheed and Maher al-Saih
NASSIRIYA, Iraq (Reuters) – The death toll from a fire that raged at a coronavirus hospital in southern Iraq has risen to 66, health officials said on Tuesday, and authorities faced charges of negligence by family members bereaved and a doctor who works at the site.
More than 100 other people were injured in Monday night’s fire in Nassiriya, which an investigation showed began when sparks from faulty wiring hit an exploding oxygen tank, police and civil defense officials said – the second tragedy like in three months.
Also on Tuesday, rescue workers used a heavy crane to remove scorched and melted remains from part of the Al-Hussain hospital, where Covid-19 patients were being treated, while relatives gathered nearby.
A hospital doctor, who declined to be identified and whose Monday shift ended a few hours before the fire broke out, said the lack of basic safety measures was already a sign of an accident.
“The hospital doesn’t have a sprinkler system, not even a simple fire alarm,” he told Reuters.
In April, a similar explosion at a Covid-19 hospital in Baghdad killed at least 82 people and injured 110. The head of the semi-official Iraqi Human Rights Commission said Monday’s crash showed how security measures are still in place. ineffective in a health system shaken by war and sanctions.
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