82 killed in Baghdad hospital fire: Iraq Interior Ministry

The fire started on the floor designated for the pulmonary intensive care unit

Some of the victims were patients on ventilators due to COVID-19.

It has said it carries out around 40,000 tests daily from a population of 40 million.

Widespread negligence on the part of health officials is to blame for the fire, Iraq's prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, said Sunday.

The fire at the Ibn Khatib hospital in the Diyala Bridge area of the Iraqi capital occurred after an accident caused an oxygen tank to explode, medical sources say.

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The fire came as Iraq grapples with a severe second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the victims died after health officials moved them off ventilators.

He said he and others watched helplessly as one patient struggled to breathe amid the smoke.

Social media videos showed a chaotic scene as firefighters scrambled to put out the blaze and health workers tried to evacuate patients.

"It was the people (civilians) who got the wounded out", Amir, 35, told AFP, saying he saved his hospitalised brothers "by the skin of his teeth".

Iraq's hospitals have been worn down by decades of conflict and poor investment, with shortages in medicines and hospital beds.

Salih supported "the decisions adopted by the Iraqi government and the Parliament to call for an immediate investigation into the cause of the blaze until those at fault have been brought to justice", the statement added.

But many also said negligence and endemic corruption were to blame for the deadly inferno.

The commission called on the prime minister to fire Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi and "bring him to justice".

The Prime Minister also ordered an "investigation that should be completed within five days, and a report to be submitted to the Council of Ministers", it said.

They are being questioned and nobody, Kadhemi said, will be released "until those who have done wrong are brought to justice".

The United Nations envoy to Iraq, Jeannine Hennis-Plasschaert, expressed "shock and pain" over the fire in a statement and called for stronger protection measures in hospitals.

The health ministry has since recorded a total of 1,025,288 cases of the disease and 15,217 deaths.

The injured and patients who weren't hurt have been taken by ambulance to other hospitals nearby.

Although Iraq has received numerous vaccines, through government purchases and foreign donations, demand for the shots remains sluggish.

As of Wednesday, 274,343 people had received at least one dose, the ministry said.

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