Death toll from COVID-19 isolation ward fire climbs to 58: Iraqi health officials

Death toll from COVID-19 isolation ward fire climbs to 58: Iraqi health officials

Medical officials stated Tuesday that the death toll from a catastrophic hospital blaze in a city in southern Iraq the day before has risen to 58.

More than 100 individuals were also injured, according to two health officials, in the fire that destroyed the coronavirus unit of al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasiriyah on Monday.

Earlier, officials had said the fire was caused by an electric short circuit, but have not provided more details. Another official said the blaze erupted when an oxygen cylinder exploded. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

The new ward, which only opened three months ago, had 70 beds.

Following the incident, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi convened an emergency conference and ordered the health director in Dhi Qar province, where Nasiriyah is located, as well as the director of the hospital and the city’s director of civil defense, to be suspended and arrested. An investigation by the government has also been begun.

It was the second time a large fire killed coronavirus patients in an Iraqi hospital this year. At least 82 people died at Ibn al-Khateeb hospital in Baghdad in April, when an oxygen tank exploded, sparking the blaze.

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