A fire at a hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah has killed at least 66 people. More than 100 were injured, according to local officials who are now facing charges of negligence.
According to the results of the first investigations, the fire started in a special class for the treatment of patients with corona viruses when the sparks from the faulty wiring spread in the oxygen tank, it exploded.
For hours, flames spread through the anti-Govt unit, preventing victims, including groups of family members from visiting the affected areas. When firefighters were able to contain the blaze, the scene was one of sunken roofs, blackened walls, shattered glass and dozens of burnt bodies.
Hours before the fire, a doctor told Reuters anonymously that the disaster was caused by a lack of basic safety measures. According to him, al-Hussein had no alarms or fire extinguishers.
“We have complained many times over the last three months that a tragedy can happen at any time with a cigarette butt, but we have always received the same response from health officials: ‘We do not have enough money,'” the doctor said.
In April, a similar bomb blast near the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killed at least 82 people and wounded 110 others.
In a post on social media, the country’s president, Barham Salih, said the two tragedies were “the result of continued corruption and mismanagement that ignores the lives of Iraqis.” Salih has ruled Iraq since 2018.
According to Ali Bioti, head of the Iraqi Human Rights Commission, this Monday’s explosion shows how ineffective security measures are in place in a health system plagued by war and international sanctions. “No action has been taken so far as such a tragic incident will be repeated a few months later. [suficientes] Avoid them. “
On the orders of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Qadimi, Nazareth’s health and civil defense managers and the hospital’s director were suspended and arrested on Monday. The Iraqi Prime Minister also declared three days of national mourning.
The disaster created immediate waves of outrage, with hundreds of people protesting in front of al-Hussein overnight, shouting “Political parties are burning us.”
“Again, politicians have shown an inability to run the country. We are moving from one tragedy to another, and the situation of Iraqis is deteriorating every day,” said Yasser al-Barak, a professor at the University of The Car province in Nasria.
Groups of young people spread out in several private hospitals in the city, which had banners reading: “People’s order closed.” They are demanding that patients be transferred to a 500-bed general medical center built by Turkey and opened in June, but not yet used.
At the city morgue, anger spread among people waiting to receive the bodies of relatives killed in the fire – at least 21 people have not been identified, according to officials.
“What should I say after losing my family?” Imad Hashim, 46, told Reuters. He lost his mother, a brother-in-law and a nephew in the fire. “It is useless to demand anything from the failed government. For three days and this case will be forgotten like everyone else.”
As of Tuesday, Iraq had more than 1.4 million cases and 17,000 deaths from the corona virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.