At least 23 people were killed in an Iraq Covid-19 hospital fire after a ‘oxygen tank exploded.’

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At least 23 people were killed in a fire at a hospital in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, that was treating Covid-19 patients.

Several others were wounded in the fire that broke out at the Ibn Khatib hospital on Saturday night (local time).

According to reports, an error caused an oxygen tank to explode, causing the fire.

Firefighters are seen trying to extinguish the flames as people flee the building in videos posted on social media.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called for an immediate investigation into the causes of what he called a “tragic accident”.

The head of Iraq’s Civil Defence, Major General Kadhim Bohan, told state media the fire broke out in the hospital’s intensive-care unit, on a floor “designated for pulmonary resuscitation”.

So far, emergency crew had rescued 90 out of 120 patients and relatives, state news agency INA quoted him as saying.

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About “30 patients were in the intensive care unit”, which was reserved for the most severe cases of Covid-19 in Baghdad, a hospital source told the AFP news agency.

The injured and patients who weren’t hurt have been taken by ambulance to other hospitals nearby.

Iraq’s Civil Defence said the fire was under control by the early hours of Sunday morning.

Baghdad Governor Mohammed Jaber echoed the prime minister’s call for an urgent investigation to determine if anyone should be “brought to justice” for negligence.

In a statement, the government’s human rights commission said the incident was “a crime against patients exhausted by Covid-19”.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Iraq’s hospitals have been stretched to their breaking point, contributing to the stresses caused by years of conflict, neglect, and corruption.

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In Iraq, the number of cases of coronavirus infection has been steadily increasing since February, surpassing one million this week.

Since the pandemic started, the health ministry has reported 1,025,288 cases of the disease and 15,217 deaths.

The country started its vaccine drive last month and has collected approximately 650,000 doses, the majority of which came from Covax, a national vaccination exchange network.




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