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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Anger mounts after 92 die in ‘catastrophic’ hospital hearth in Iraq

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The demise toll from a fireplace that tore by means of a coronavirus ward at a hospital in southern Iraq has risen to 92, well being officers have mentioned, as grieving family slammed the federal government over the second such catastrophe inside three months.

Officers mentioned greater than 100 folks have been injured within the blaze at al-Hussein Educating Hospital on Monday evening in Nasiriya, highlighting the crippled healthcare system within the nation amid a long time of struggle and sanctions.

An investigation confirmed the fireplace started when sparks from defective wiring unfold to an oxygen tank that then exploded, police and civil defence authorities mentioned.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi convened an emergency assembly and ordered the suspension and arrest of the well being director in Dhi Qar province, the hospital director and the town’s civil defence chief. The federal government additionally launched a time-bound investigation.

Al-Kadhimi known as the tragedy “a deep wound in the consciousness of all Iraqis”. A press release from his workplace known as for nationwide mourning.

In a tweet on Tuesday, President Barham Salih blamed the “catastrophe” on the hospital on “persistent corruption and mismanagement that undervalues the lives of Iraqis”.

A Nasiriya courtroom mentioned it had ordered the arrest of 13 native officers in reference to the fireplace.

Mismanagement and neglect

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Anguished family have been nonetheless in search of traces of their family members on Tuesday morning, looking out by means of the particles of charred blankets and belongings contained in the torched stays of the ward. A blackened cranium of a deceased feminine affected person from the ward was discovered.

The blaze trapped many sufferers contained in the coronavirus ward who rescue groups struggled to succeed in, a well being employee instructed Reuters on Monday earlier than getting into the burning constructing.

Rescue groups have been utilizing a heavy crane to take away the charred and melted stays of the a part of the hospital the place COVID-19 sufferers have been being handled, as family gathered close by.

Many cried brazenly, their tears tinged with anger, blaming each the provincial authorities of Dhi Qar, the place Nasiriya is situated, and the federal authorities in Baghdad for years of mismanagement and neglect.

“The whole state system has collapsed, and who paid the price? The people inside here. These people have paid the price,” mentioned Haidar al-Askari, who was on the scene of the blaze.

Mohammed Fadhil, ready to obtain his trouble’s physique, mentioned it was a catastrophe. “No quick response to the fire, not enough firefighters. Sick people burned to death. It’s a disaster,” he mentioned.

DNA assessments to determine our bodies

Whereas some our bodies have been collected for burial, with mourners weeping and praying over the coffins, the stays of greater than 20 badly charred corpses required DNA assessments to determine them.

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Nasiriya, mentioned that forensic groups have recognized round 39 our bodies, whereas dozens others are nonetheless underneath a “recognition process”.

“We met victims’ families here who cannot find their loved ones. Dozens of body parts cannot be easily identified,” Abdelwahed mentioned.

“Another man we met lost five of his family members – three [were] COVID-19 patients and the others were either visitors or those who rushed to try to save their relatives.”

In April, an analogous explosion at a Baghdad COVID-19 hospital killed a minimum of 82 and injured 110.

Iraq has registered greater than 1.4 million instances of the coronavirus and upwards of 17,000 deaths as every day infections spike.

The top of Iraq’s semi-official Human Rights Fee mentioned Monday’s blast confirmed how ineffective security measures nonetheless have been within the well being system.

“To have such a tragic incident repeated few months later means that still no [sufficient] measures have been taken to prevent them,” Ali al-Bayati mentioned.

The truth that the hospital had been constructed with light-weight panels separating the wards had made the fireplace unfold sooner, native civil defence authority head Salah Jabbar mentioned.

A medic on the hospital, who declined to provide his title and whose shift ended a number of hours earlier than the fireplace broke out, mentioned the absence of fundamental security measures meant it was an accident within the making.

“The hospital lacks a fire sprinkler system or even a simple fire alarm,” he instructed Reuters.

“We complained many times over the past three months that a tragedy could happen any moment from a cigarette stub, but every time we get the same answer from health officials: ‘We don’t have enough money’.”

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