Kurdistan Region offers assistance to victims of Baghdad coronavirus hospital fire
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Following a deadly explosion and fire at a coronavirus treatment center in the Iraqi capital on Saturday night that killed and injured dozens, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani offered humanitarian assistance for the victims.
At Al-Khateeb Hospital, a Baghdad intensive care hospital for COVID-19 patients, a blaze broke out, reportedly caused by exploding oxygen cylinders.
Initial tallies by health officials and firefighters put the fatalities near 20, but later on Sunday, the interior ministry announced that 82 people had in fact been killed and 110 others injured.
In a statement released on Sunday, Barzani said that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) would “offer all the necessary assistance for the victims of the blast, particularly medical aid and receiving the injured ones.”
The Kurdish leader also extended his condolences to the victims’ families and wished survivors a speedy recovery.
Following the incident, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced a three-day national period of mourning and an immediate probe into the exact cause and who was responsible.
Medical sources said the fire was “a fault in the storage of oxygen cylinders,” while others blamed the lack of basic safety measures at the medical facility, AFP reported.
What exacerbated the situation and likely contributed to the large number of deaths was an estimated 300 to 400 patients at the hospital who were in serious enough condition to require a ventilator to breathe effectively after suffering limited respiratory capacity as a result of their coronavirus infections.
"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," Iraqi civil defense workers told the French news agency.
The fire came as the country struggles with rising COVID-19 infections, lately recording over 8,600 daily cases and surpassing one million infections since March 2020. More than 15,000 in Iraq have died due with the virus since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Editing by John J. Catherine