NASIRIYAH, Iraq, July 13, (Agencies): The death toll from a fire at a hospital coronavirus ward climbed to 92 on Tuesday as anguished relatives buried their loved ones and lashed out at the government over the country’s second such disaster in less than three months. Health officials said scores of others were injured in the blaze that erupted Monday at al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasiriyah.
His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences on Tuesday to Iraqi President Barham Saleh and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al- Kadhimi over the victims of the tragic fire. His Highness the Deputy Amir and Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah also sent similar cables.
The tragedy cast a spotlight on what many have decried as widespread negligence and mismanagement in Iraq’s hospitals after decades of war and sanctions. Prime Minister Mustafa al- Kadhimi convened an emergency meeting and ordered the suspension and arrest of the health director in Dhi Qar provice, the hospital director and the city’s civil defense chief. The government also launched an investigation. The prime minister called the catastrophe “a deep wound in the consciousness of all Iraqis.” In the holy city of Najaf, the dead were laid to rest. Mourning families stood over coffins in the mosque to say one last prayer. Their tears were tinged with anger, with some saying the disaster could have been prevented. They blamed both the provincial government and the central government in Baghdad. Ahmed Resan, who witnessed the blaze, said it began with smoke. “But everyone ran away – the workers and even the police. A few minutes later there was an explosion,” he said. He said firefighters arrived an hour later.