More than sixty people were killed and over one hundred were injured when a fire swept through an isolation ward for Covid-19 patients at a hospital in Nassiriyah, Southern Iraq, health officials said on Tuesday.
According to local police and civil defence officials, the fire started when sparks rom faulty wiring spread to an oxygen tank, which then exploded.
An angry crowd gathered near the city’s morgue blaming local authorities for negligence.
A similar explosion at Baghdad’s Covid-19 hospital killed at least 82 people and injured 110 more in April.
Monday’s incident, according to the president of Iraq’s semi-official Human Rights Commission, demonstrated how ineffective safety safeguards in a health system ravaged by war and sanctions remain.
Anger spread among people gathered at Nassiriya’s morgue as they waited to receive relatives’ bodies.
Two health officials said the dead from Monday’s fire included twenty one charred bodies that were still unidentified.
Many patients were stuck inside the hospital’s coronavirus unit, which rescue personnel struggled to reach, according to a health worker before entering the blazing building on Monday.
The suspension and detention of health and civil defense managers in Nassiriya, as well as the manager of the al-Hussain hospital, were ordered by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday, according to his office.