41 people killed in Iraq Covid hospital fire (Ld)

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At least 41 people were killed and several others wounded in a massive fire that broke out in a hospital treating Covid-19 patients in Iraq’s southern province of Dhi Qar, official media reported on Tuesday.

The fire eruoted on Monday evening at the quarantine centre for coronavirus patients in al-Hussein Hospital in the provincial capital city of al-Nasiriyah, some 375 km south of Baghdad, Xinhua news agency reported citing the media reports as saying.

Firefighters and civil defence teams were trying to evacuate patients and health workers while trying to put out the blaze, the reports added.

Spokesman for the Health Department of Dhi Qar province Ammar al-Zamily told the Iraqi News Agency that the firefighters managed to put out the fire.

Dhi Qar’s health department declared a state of emergency after the fire, al-Zamily said.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held an emergency meeting with some cabinet ministers and security commanders to discuss the hospital fire and its consequences.

Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi tweeted that the session on Tuesday will discuss the incident.

In April, an exploding oxygen tank started a fire that killed at least 82 people at a hospital in the capital Baghdad.

Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi resigned after that fire.

The coronavirus pandemic has severely strained Iraq’s health service, already suffering from years of war, neglect and corruption.

Iraq has recorded 1.4 million infections and reported more than 17,000 deaths from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The country has given at least one dose of a vaccine against Covid to just over one million of its roughly 40 million citizens, the World Health Organization says.

–IANS

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