At least 82 people have died and 110 have been injured Saturday night following the explosion of an oxygen cylinder and subsequent fire at a hospital for covid-19 patients in Baghdad.
The spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, Khaled al Mhana, has indicated that some of the victims suffered burns and that others jumped from high floors to flee the flames, and has warned that the death toll could increase due to the severity of the injuries of some of the injured.
The Health Ministry has indicated in a statement that more than 200 patients had been rescued from the building. “I managed to rescue my brother and take him out to the street. Then I returned to the building and went up to the top floor that was not on fire.
There I found a suffocated young woman of about 19 years old who was about to die,” explained Ahmed Zaki. “I carried it on my shoulders and ran down,” he added.
Lack of collaboration
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kazemi said in another press release that he had asked for results on the investigations of this tragedy in 24 hours and that those responsible be punished during an emergency meeting with several of his ministers and security officials during the early morning.
As a first measure, the Minister of Health, Hasan al Tamimi, has been temporarily removed from office. The same fate has been suffered by the governor of Baghdad and the head of the hospital, the head of security and the head of maintenance have been arrested.
The Interior Ministry has ruled out that the explosion was intentional , although Al Kazemi has assured that it is not possible to speak of human error but of “criminal” negligence. “Don’t let anyone tell me it was due to an electrical failure, it’s a shame,” he added, referring to one of the first hypotheses that had circulated about the cause that caused the oxygen cylinders to explode .
Protests in the streets
Today there have been spontaneous demonstrations by relatives of victims of other outraged young people in different parts of the Iraqi capital. Participants in the protests, which dissolved without incident, also protested the deficient public services, which in the case of health, present a poor state of infrastructures in a country undergoing reconstruction after decades of conflict that have seriously affected the public services.
Iraq is one of the Middle Eastern countries with the most COVID-19 infections, more than 1.18 million people, according to the World Health Organization, while the death toll amounts to more than 15,000.