At least 92 people died in a fire that hit a hospital dedicated to treating patients with Covid-19 in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriya, official sources said.
Di Qar province’s Health Department announced that “the death toll in the fire at Imam Hussein Hospital has risen to 92,” according to the Iraqi state news agency “INA”.
Early investigations indicate that the fire occurred after the explosion of an oxygen cylinder at the health center. Several patients died from asphyxia and other causes, reported state television “Al Iraqiya”.
Local media also reported that the incident was caused by a short circuit at the facility, which lacks fire prevention systems such as smoke detectors.
Structural problems in administration
Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Twitter that “the catastrophe at Hussein hospital in Dhi Qar province and previously at Ibn al Khatib hospital in Baghdad is the result of corruption and mismanagement that underestimates the lives of Iraqis and impedes the functioning of institutions”.
Salih also referred to the tragedy that took place in April at Ibn al Khatib hospital in southeast Baghdad, when oxygen cylinders intended for Covid-19 patients also exploded, causing a massive fire that killed 82 people and injured more than 100.
In a statement, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi said the tragedy showed a “structural defect” in the country’s administrative system, as “there is no monitoring or diagnosis of errors while citizens become victims.”
Kadhimi held an emergency meeting last night with several cabinet members to discuss what happened. Shortly thereafter, the health director in Dhi Qar province, Sadam al Tawil, resigned from his post and the provincial government decreed three days of mourning.
Iraqi authorities opened an investigation and a court in Dhi Qar province issued arrest warrants for 13 provincial health department officials, including its director, according to “INA”.