Iraqi Leader Orders Investigation Of Baghdad Hospital Fire : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

Iraqis in the holy shrine city of Najaf on Sunday mourn relatives who were killed in a massive fire in a Baghdad hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients. Ali Najafi / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption

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Ali Najafi / AFP via Getty Images

Iraqis in the holy shrine city of Najaf on Sunday mourn relatives who were killed in a massive fire in a Baghdad hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients.

Ali Najafi / AFP via Getty Images

At least 82 people were killed and dozens injured in a massive fire in a Baghdad hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients. Amid calls for action by international organizations, the Iraqi Prime Minister ordered an investigation.

Early reports say the fire at Ibn Al-Khatib Hospital in the Iraqi capital was triggered by an exploding oxygen cylinder on Saturday. The flames raged through the facility where patients were being treated for the coronavirus.

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. General Khaled Al-Muhanna said 110 people were injured in the explosion.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said the incident was the result of negligence and he declared one Time of mourning, phase of mourning in honor of the victims.

Kadhimi also opened an investigation into the fire and requested results within 24 hours. An investigation into the director, security director and maintenance of the hospital will also be launched.

In the Iraqi

“I’ll say it honestly, the incident is a violation of Iraqi national security and a setback in the truest sense of the word. We must not let such events go unnoticed.” Said Kadhimi in a statement.

The hospital had no smoke alarms, sprinkler systems or fire hoses, said Maj. Gen. Khadhim Bohan, chief of Iraq’s civil defense forces The New York Times. Flammable material used in false ceilings in the intensive care unit helped the fire spread quickly, Bohan said.

28 of the victims suffered from severe symptoms and were ventilated so that they could not escape after the fire broke out Ali Akram al-Bayatithe Independent High Commission on Human Rights in Iraq.

The commission called for action from the Iraqi government, calling the incident a “crime” against patients hospitalized because of COVID-19. The Commission also called on Kadhimi to dismiss the Iraqi health minister and his deputy ministers.

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UNAMI, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, called stronger protection to prevent further disasters.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Iraqi special envoy of the UN Secretary-General, expressed her shock at the incident and wished the injured a full recovery.

The pandemic has dealt a blow to the Iraqi health system, which has already struggled after decades of war and sanctions against the country. Confirmed COVID-19 infections in Iraq have risen 1 millionaccording to the World Health Organization.

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