By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Dozens of people have died after a fire erupted in the coronavirus isolation ward at an Iraqi hospital, the second such deadly inferno at a COVID -19 unit in Iraq in three months, officials said.
The fire broke out at the Al-Hussein hospital in the southern Iraqi city of
Nasiriyah and was reportedly brought under control late Monday.
The cause was unclear, but initial reports suggested it began after an oxygen tank exploded.
Reporters saw charred bodies being carried out of the building. Authorities said some 40 people died in the blaze.
But health official Haydar al-Zamili suggested the death toll could slightly rise. He said people were trapped inside the ward, which reportedly had space for 60 patients.
“The victims died of burns, and the search is continuing,” Zamili said. At least sixteen people were rescued so far, officials said.
The deadly blaze immediately sparked angry calls on social media demanding action and the resignation of top officials. In April, a fire at a Baghdad coronavirus hospital killed 82 and injured 110, sparked by the explosion of poorly stored oxygen cylinders.
Many of the victims in the April fire were on respirators being treated for COVID-19, witnesses said. They burned or suffocated in the blaze that spread rapidly through the hospital, where dozens of relatives visited patients in the intensive care unit.