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2021 Baghdad hospital fire

Fire at Ibn al-Khatib Hospital on 24 April 2021

Top 7 2021 Baghdad hospital fire related articles

Baghdad hospital fire
Date24–25 April 2021
LocationBaghdad, Iraq
Coordinates33°13′27″N 44°30′40″E / 33.22417°N 44.51111°E / 33.22417; 44.51111Coordinates: 33°13′27″N 44°30′40″E / 33.22417°N 44.51111°E / 33.22417; 44.51111
TypeFire
Deaths82
Non-fatal injuries110

On the night of 24 to 25 April 2021, a fire at the Ibn al-Khatib hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, left at least 82 people dead and 110 others injured.[1][2][3][4] The fire was started by the explosion of oxygen tanks designated for COVID-19 patients. A lack of fire detection and suppression systems contributed to the spread of the fire, and many died as a result of being taken off their ventilators to escape the fire.[5] The disaster led to calls for accountability, and the Minister for Health, Hassan al-Tamimi, was suspended by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi the following day.[4]

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic put a large strain on Iraq. As of April 2021, more than a million cases had been recorded in the country, more than in any other Arab state.[3][4] The public was skeptical about COVID-19 vaccines, and many were reluctant to wear masks during the pandemic.[4]

Ibn al-Khatib was one of three hospitals in Baghdad that were designated at the beginning of the pandemic by the Iraqi Ministry of Health to treat COVID-19 patients.[6] The hospital served one of the poorer neighbourhoods of Baghdad, and a spokesperson for the health ministry stated that it was originally built in the 1950s and was renovated last year to treat coronavirus patients.[5]

Patients in intensive care at the hospital were given respirators to assist breathing, and would have been difficult to transport in the event of a fire.[7]

The European Commission released a report earlier in 2021 warning of the increased risk of hospital fires due to the use of supplemental oxygen in wards treating coronavirus patients.[5][8]

2021 Baghdad hospital fire Background articles: 5

Fire

External image
A hallway of the hospital after the fire[5]

On the night of 24 April 2021, an accident occurred in the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU) that caused an oxygen tank to explode.[3] Medical sources told Agence France-Presse that the accident was caused by "a fault in the storage of oxygen cylinders".[4] A doctor reported that the staff had tried to shut down the hospital's central oxygen system, but the oxygen tanks had already started exploding.[5] The explosions set off a fire in the ICU that spread quickly to multiple floors during the night.[3][1][4] At the time of the fire, it was believed that at least 120 patients were in the hospital, a doctor at the hospital disclosed.[9] Major General Khadhim Bohan, head of Iraq's Civil Defence, stated that the hospital had neither smoke detectors, nor a sprinkler system, nor fire hoses, and that flammable material used in the dropped ceiling of the ICU contributed to the speed at which the fire spread.[5]

The ICU, reserved for the most severe cases of the coronavirus, had about 30 patients, and dozens of their relatives were visiting at the time.[3][4] One witness, who was visiting his brother in the hospital, stated that he saw people jumping out of windows and doctors landing on cars to escape the fire.[1]

Iraq's Civil Defence stated that the fire was under control by the early morning hours of 25 April.[3]

2021 Baghdad hospital fire Fire articles: 4

Casualties

At least 82 people died as a result of the fire.[3][4] The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights reported that 28 of the fatalities were coronavirus patients being treated in wards at the ICU who had to be taken off their ventilators to escape the fire when it had reached their ward.[1][10][11] Others had died of smoke inhalation.[3] According to the pharmaceutical association of Iraq, at least one pharmacist was amongst the fatalities.[5] At least 110 other people were injured.[3][4] A reporter for Al Jazeera stated that the number of fatalities was likely to rise because many of those injured had suffered severe burns.[1]

2021 Baghdad hospital fire Casualties articles: 2

Aftermath

With a health system already strained by poor infrastructure and the coronavirus pandemic, the fire, which was attributed to negligence often associated with widespread government corruption, sparked anger amongst the public and led to calls for accountability, including demands for the firing of Hassan al-Timini, the Minister of Health.[4][3] The governor of Baghdad, Mohammed Jaber, called for the health ministry to establish a commission to bring those responsible to justice.[4] Although several patients were relocated to other hospitals, many families decided to wait outside the hospital after the fire was extinguished, in an attempt to search for their loved ones.[12]

On 25 April, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held an emergency meeting where he ascribed the fire to negligence, and ordered authorities to report the results of an investigation "within 24 hours".[1][4] Al Jazeera reported that the announcement of the investigation did not stop the wrath of those on social media, as Iraqis repeatedly hear of the government declaring investigations but rarely see anyone actually being held accountable for their actions or lack thereof.[1]

Al-Kadhimi also ordered the detention of the head of the hospital and the head of its department of engineering and maintenance, as well as the detention and questioning of the health director for the area of Baghdad where the hospital was located.[5] He also suspended the Baghdad governor as well as Health Minister Hassan al-Timini and planned to question them as well.[2][10] Kadhimi instructed that the investigation be concluded within a period of five days, as well as the submission of a report to the Council of Ministers, according to CNN.[10]

On the same day, al-Kadhimi declared a three-day national mourning period.[13] He also stated that the family members of each victim would receive 10,000,000 IQD (5,700 EUR in 2021).[10]

Several countries worldwide issued condolences to the people of Iraq.[a] Pope Francis also grieved for those killed in the Baghdad hospital fire, as he called on the faithful to dedicate prayers to the victims.[17]

Some medical staff, witnesses, and family members who lost their loved ones, said that the fire extinguishers were not functional.[18] They criticised the Iraqi healthcare system which they believe had been subjected to mismanagement for years and has now led to the death of more than 80 people.[19]

2021 Baghdad hospital fire Aftermath articles: 6

See also

Notes

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "82 killed in Iraq as fire erupts at COVID-19 hospital". Al Jazeera English. 24 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "At least 82 die in Baghdad COVID hospital fire - Interior Ministry". Reuters. 24 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Iraq Covid hospital fire: 82 dead after 'oxygen tank explodes'". BBC News. 24 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Fire at Baghdad Covid hospital kills 82, leaves 110 wounded". TheJournal.ie. 24 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Hassan, Falih; Arraf, Jane (25 April 2021). "Fire at Baghdad Hospital Packed with Covid Patients Kills at Least 82". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  6. ^ "MSF supports Iraqi hospitals responding to coronavirus COVID-19". Médecins Sans Frontières International. 14 April 2020. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  7. ^ "At least 82 killed in fire after 'oxygen tanks explode' at Covid hospital in Iraq". The Telegraph. 25 April 2021. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Chemical Accident Prevention & Preparedness" (PDF). European Commission. January 2021. Archived from the original on 21 April 2021.
  9. ^ Kullab, Samya (24 April 2021). "Fire tears through Baghdad hospital for coronavirus patients". Associated Press.
  10. ^ a b c d Tawfeeq, Mohammed. "At least 82 killed in massive Baghdad hospital fire". CNN. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 26 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Salim, Mustafa; Loveluck, Louisa (25 April 2021). "Toll climbs to 82 in fire at Baghdad hospital treating coronavirus patients". Washington Post. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Fire from oxygen tank blast in Baghdad COVID-19 hospital kills 82".
  13. ^ "Iraqi hospital fire kills 82, injures more than 100: report". Kyodo News+. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  14. ^ "Egypt offers condolences to families of victims in Baghdad hospital fire". Egypt Today. 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  15. ^ Alhas, Ali Murat (25 April 2021). "Turkey condoles with Iraq over hospital fire". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Saudi Arabia sends condolences for victims of Iraq hospital fire". Arab News (via Reuters). 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  17. ^ Majeed, Zaini (26 April 2021). "Pope Francis Mourns Baghdad Hospital Fire Victims, Drowned Migrants At Mediterranean". Republic World. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  18. ^ Rasheed, Ahmed; Nazeh, Maher (26 April 2021). "Enraged Relatives Say Neglect Caused Deadly Baghdad Hospital Fire". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 26 April 2021 – via Reuters.
  19. ^ Reuters Now (27 April 2021). Relatives say neglect caused Baghdad hospital fire. Iraq: Reuters. Retrieved 27 April 2021.