At least 41 people have been killed in a hospital fire in the southeastern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, with at least 5 people critically injured.
According to Dr. Ammar al-Zamili, the spokesperson for the local health department, the fire on Monday night, July 12, is believed to have started after oxygen tanks exploded in an ICU treating Covid-19 patients, al-Zamili said.
“The civil defense teams managed to control and put out the major fire that broke out at al-Hussein hospital in the city with the help of health workers and neighborhood volunteers,” al-Zamili told CNN.
Health officials could not say how many people were inside the building when the fire broke out but said an evacuation operation is underway. Al-Hussein Hospital was set up to treat Covid-19 patients at the start of the pandemic and has quarantine stations on site.
In April, at least 82 people were killed in a huge fire at a Covid-19 hospital in Baghdad. That fire had started after oxygen tanks exploded in the Covid-19 ICU.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi will hold an emergency meeting with a number of ministers and security commanders “to find out the causes and repercussions” of the deadly fire, the PM’s office said Tuesday morning, July 13.
Iraqi Parliament Speaker, Mohammed al-Halbousi tweeted that the fire shows a failure to protect lives “and it is time to put an end to this catastrophic failure, and Parliament will shift today’s session to examine options regarding what happened.”