A hospital fire in Iraq killed 82 people on Saturday and injured more than 100. The fire at the Baghdad hospital was sparked by an oxygen tank explosion, reports said. The hospital was treating Covid-19 patients among others.
Iraqi officials had earlier said only about 40 people had died. However, local reports said the blaze had caused far greater casualties.
28 Victims Were Covid Patients
CNN reported that as many as 28 of the victims were Covid-19 patients being treated in ICU wards. The patients who survived the blaze were moved to other hospitals.
"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," an eyewitness said, according to 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," he added, the report said.
Fire a Crime, PM Says
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said the fire was a 'crime' and ordered a probe. "Such an incident is evidence of negligence and therefore I directed that an investigation be launched immediately and for the hospital's manager and the heads of security and maintenance to be detained along with all those concerned until we identify those negligent and hold them accountable," al-Kadhimi said in a statement.
The High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq (IHCHR) also said the fire incident was a crime against the rights of the patients, and asked the government to bring people responsible to the book.
The interior ministry said safety measures at hospitals must be reviewed. "We urgently need to review safety measures at all hospitals to prevent such a painful incident from happening in future," an Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman said, according to Reuters.