Steve Allen 4am - 7am
Fire in Baghdad Covid-19 hospital kills at least 24
25 April 2021, 07:16 | Updated: 25 April 2021, 07:18
At least 24 people have died in a Baghdad hospital which looks after Covid-19 patients after oxygen cylinders reportedly exploded, officials said.
Firefighters rushed to put out the flames and clear out patients at the Ibn al-Khatib hospital, which provides care for severe coronavirus patients in its intensive care unit.
Local reports have so far said 24 people died in the blast and at least 34 more injured.
Dr Sabah al-Kuzaie said: "I don't know how many victims there are, there are so many burned bodies all over the place."
There were at least 120 patients in the hospital at the time of the fire, a doctor at the hospital said.
The fire is believed to have been caused when at least one oxygen cylinder exploded inside the hospital, local media reported.
A statement released by Iraq's Health Ministry said: "Civil defense teams are still at the scene of the accident, investigating the causes that led to this fire, which caused the loss of the lives of many of patients and their companions."
At least two doctors at the scene confirmed they believed the oxygen cylinder had caused the flames that raged in the second floor of the hospital.
Iraq is in the midst of a severe Covid-19 wave, as daily coronavirus rates now average above 8,000 new cases, the highest since the pandemic broke out in the country last year.
The government is urging the public to get vaccinated, but demand has been low due to widespread mistrust of the health care system and the vaccines in particular.
The Iraqi Prime Minister's office tweeted shortly after the incident: "Prime Minister and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces @MAKadhimi mourns the martyrs of the tragic accident that occurred in Ibn Al-Khatib Hospital in the capital Baghdad.
"Mr. Al-Khadimi ordered an immediate investigation into the causes of the accident with the people in charge in the Ministry (of health) and he ordered to summon the hospital's manager, the security manager (of the hospital) and those responsible for maintaining the equipment in the hospital to immediately investigate with them on the background of the accident ... until the investigations are completed and all those who are negligent are held accountable."