A fire in a coronavirus isolation ward at an Iraqi hospital has killed more than 50 people.
The fire at the Al-Hussein hospital in Nasiriya, in the southern city of Saudi Arabia, was put out late Monday.
The source of the incident is unknown, however, preliminary indications indicate that it started when an oxygen tank exploded.
Mustafa al-Kadhemi, Iraq’s prime minister, has ordered the hospital’s director to be detained. Outside the building, relatives of patients have been protesting.
According to the Reuters news agency, there were fights with police, and two police vehicles were set on fire.
Medical officials informed the Associated Press news agency that the new unit, which had 70 beds, was only three months old. At least 63 individuals were inside when the fire started, according to a provincial health official.
“I heard a tremendous explosion within the coronavirus wards, and then fire broke out immediately,” hospital security told Reuters. A search operation is still underway.
The fire was “concrete proof of the failure to protect Iraqi lives,” according to Iraqi parliament speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi, who added that “it is time to put an end to this disastrous failure.”
The new unit, which had 70 beds, was only three months old, according to medical officials who spoke to the Associated Press news agency. According to a provincial health official, at least 63 people were inside when the fire started.
“I heard a huge explosion inside the coronavirus wards, and then fire broke out right afterward,” a hospital security officer told Reuters. The hunt for the missing person is still ongoing.