At least eighty-two people were killed after fire sparked by an oxygen tank caused an explosion at a hospital in Baghdad that had been equipped to house COVID-19 patients, reported Reuters.
The Interior Ministry spokesman said: “We urgently need to review safety measures at all hospitals to prevent such a painful incident from happening in future.”
At least 110 others were injured. The fire erupted on Saturday at the Ibn Khatib hospital in the Diyala Bridge area.
Ali Bayati, a member of Iraq’s semi-official High Commission for Human Rights, had said earlier a final death toll had not yet been officially announced but it could be between 30 to 45.
Patients’ relatives scrambled during the blaze to save their loved ones. A man who had been visiting his brother described people jumping out of windows to escape.
“The fire spread, like fuel … I took my brother out to the street, next to the checkpoint. Then I came (back) and went up from there. To the last floor, that did not burn. I found a girl suffocating, about 19 years old, she was suffocating, she was about to die,” Ahmed Zaki told Reuters. “I took her on my shoulders and I ran down. People were jumping… Doctors fell on the cars. Everyone was jumping. And I kept going up from there, got people and come down again.”
Patients were moved to other hospitals, medical sources said. But several families were still at the hospital hours after the fire had been extinguished, after failing to find them elsewhere.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered an investigation.