Fire at Baghdad COVID hospital kills 82

At least 82 people died and 110 were injured when a fire broke out Sunday in a coronavirus intensive care unit in the capital, Iraq’s Interior Ministry confirmed.

Iraq a country with long-dilapidated health infrastructure grappling Covid-19.

The fire started with an explosion caused by “a fault in the storage of oxygen cylinders”, medical sources told news agency.

It spread quickly, according to the civil defence, as “the hospital had no fire protection system and false ceilings allowed the flames to spread to highly flammable products”.

Ali al-Bayati, spokesman of the country’s independent Human Rights Commission tweeted that among the dead were at least 28 patients on ventilators battling severe symptoms of the virus.

Iraq’s hospitals have been damaged by decades of conflict and poor investment in health care.

In the middle of the night, as dozens of relatives were at the bedsides of 30 patients in the intensive care unit at Ibn al-Khatib hospital — reserved for the most severe Covid-19 cases in Baghdad — flames spread across multiple floors, media reports quoting medical source said.

“The majority of the victims died because they had to be moved and were taken off ventilators, while the others were suffocated by the smoke,” the civil defence said.

At least 15,200 people have died of coronavirus in Iraq among a total of at least 100,000 confirmed cases.