Dozens killed after fire at Iraq covid hospital

Dozens killed after fire at Iraq covid hospital

At least 58 people were killed by a fire at an Iraqi coronavirus hospital on Monday, a health official said.

The fire raged through late Monday at al-​Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasiriya, about 200 miles south of Baghdad. Crowds gathered in a nearby street, where bodies covered in sheets were pushed through as crews battled the fire. After part of the fire was extinguished near the street, some used flashlights on their cellphones to illuminate the way for people carrying bodies.

Police said that an oxygen tank explosion was likely the cause of the fire, Reuters reported.

Firefighters worked to prevent Monday’s fire from spreading from the ward through to the main hospital building, the Interior Ministry in Baghdad said in a Facebook post.

The isolation ward was constructed from flammable materials and could have easily caught fire, Maj. Gen. Khalid Bohan, head of Iraq’s civil defense, told reporters. Rescue teams were struggling to reach patients trapped inside the ward by the fire.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held an emergency meeting with ministers, officials and security leaders about the fire, his office said in a tweet. He ordered the suspension, arrest and investigation of the hospital’s director, as well as local health and civil defense leaders.

People wounded in the fire and in critical condition would be sent for treatment outside the country, the prime minister’s office said.