Map of the Iraqi city of Nasiriyyah.
13 Jul 2021

Over 50 people killed in hospital fire in Iraq - oxygen tank explosion likely the cause

At least 52 people have died in a massive hospital fire in the city of Nasiriyyah on Monday night. Dozens more people have been injured.

During the night, rescue crews search the charred building in search of more victims.

"The victims died from burn injuries and the search continues", said the local health authorities' spokesperson Haydar al-Zamili.

The fire was likely caused by an explosion in an oxygen tank. The incident occurred at an isolation ward for covid patients, which could accomodate 70 patients.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held a crisis meeting after the incident, and protesters gathered outside the hospital, putting the blame on the government and the political parties. 

Local authorities have declared a state of emergency in the area and doctors have been ordered to join in to help care for the injured.

The incident is the second of its kind this year.  In April, 82 people lost their lives in a fire at a covid ward in the capital, Baghdad. That fire also started when oxygen tubes exploded at the Ibn al-Khatib Hospital. As a result of the fire, the then Minister of Health Hassan al-Tamimi resigned from his post.