Akilling 82 people pre-dawn Sunday, sparking angry calls for officials to be sacked in a country with long-dilapidated health infrastructure. Many victims were on respirators when the blaze at Baghdad’s Ibn al-Khatib hospital started with an explosion caused by “a fault in the storage of oxygen cylinders”, medical sources told AFP. Flames multiple floors in the middle of the night. A medical source said that dozens of relatives were at the bedsides of the 30 patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit, where the most are treated.
“The, and false ceilings allowed the flames to spread to highly flammable products,” Iraq’s civil defense arm said. The country’s human rights commission , who has suspended several officials, to fire Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi and “bring him to justice”, as anger swelled on social media. At least 23 deaths were immediate aftermath, with an official toll of 82 killed and 110 wounded announced later by the interior ministry.
Videos onshowed firefighters battling to blaze as patients and their relatives tried to flee the building. “It was the people (civilians) who got the wounded out,” Amir, 35, told AFP, brothers “by the skin of his teeth”. Iraq’s hospitals have been worn down by decades of conflict poor investment, shortages of medicines and . Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi called for an investigation into the cause of the blaze and . Parliament session to the tragedy.
‘A crime against patients’
After daybreak, dozens of tall oxygen cylinders that had been evacuated could be seen lined up outside the building, alongside gurneys and scattered debris, an AFP photographer said. More than 200 patients in all were rescued, according to the. According to several sources, the fire – caused by negligence often linked to endemic corruption in Iraq – , with a hash-tag demanding the health minister be sacked trending on Twitter.
Baghdad Governor Mohammed Jaber called on the health ministry “to establish a commission of inquiry so that those who did not do their jobs may be brought to justice”. In a statement, the government’s human rights commission said the incident was “a crime againstwho put their lives in the hands of the health ministry and its institutions. “Instead of being treated, (they) perished in flames,” it added.
One of the fire victims, Ali Ibrahim, 52, had beenat Ibn al-Khatib and was buried by his family on Sunday at Zaafaraniya, a neighborhood near the hospital. “He had just spent 12 days in the hospital and was due to be discharged on Saturday evening after recovering. He was waiting for the result of the test,” one of his relatives told AFP. The suspended the health director for the eastern sector of Baghdad and the head of Ibn al-Khatib, and the hospital’s charges of security and technical maintenance teams. They are being questioned, and nobody, Mr. Kadhemi said, will be released “until those who have done wrong are brought to justice”.