64 COVID-19 patients die, 50 others injured as fire consumes Iraqi hospital

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A fire at an isolation ward for coronavirus patients in a southern Iraqi hospital has killed no fewer than 64 people.

According to the Health Department in Dhi Qar Province, about 50 others have been injured.

The blaze erupted on Monday at Imam al-Hussein hospital in Nasiriyah city, in Dhi Qar Province, which lies some 375 kilometres south of the capital, Baghdad.

Officials said there were more than 60 patients at the ward when the fire erupted, plus the medical staff.

The fire totally destroyed the ward, which was built over a 600-square-metre area and designed to take up to 100 patients.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered an investigation into the fire and suspended the senior health and security officials in the province. All three will face investigation.

Officials are yet to confirm the cause of the inferno but witnesses said it started when an oxygen cylinder exploded.

Iraq has been struggling to control the spread of COVID-19 and the vaccination drive has been slow.

It is also experiencing a deep economic crisis, compounded by the pandemic and a fall in oil prices, the country’s main source of income.

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