Millennium Post

12 newborns dead in Baghdad hospital blaze

A fire tore through the maternity ward of one of Baghdad’s largest hospitals today, killing at least 12 premature babies, medical and security officials said.

Jassem Lateef al-Karkh, from the Baghdad health directorate, told reporters only seven babies could be saved and were taken to another ward in the Iraqi capital.

Health ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Rudeini told AFP the blaze at the Yarmuk hospital in west Baghdad was started by an electrical fault just after midnight (2100 GMT Tuesday). “Twenty-nine women patients who were in the same ward were evacuated to other hospitals,” he said.

Security services sealed off the area as forensic teams searched the gutted ward and angry relatives massed outside, waiting for information from the authorities.

Charred incubators could be seen outside one of the entrances to the hospital, access to which was strictly controlled by the police.

The grief of the bereaved parents and relatives was compounded by the fact that the babies’ young age and the effects of the fire made it very difficult to identify the bodies.

Umm Ahmed came to Yarmuk on Tuesday when a close relative of hers gave birth. The baby died in the inferno and the mother suffered burns, she said.

“I am looking for our child, they told me ‘go find him in the fridge’,” said the middle-aged woman.
An official at Iraq’s interior ministry confirmed the death toll from the fire, adding that three other babies were being treated for smoke inhalation.

Many of Baghdad’s public hospitals are poorly maintained and offer sub-standard healthcare, forcing a number of Iraqis to seek private treatment or travel abroad.

The lack of adequate public services, such as quality medical care, electricity and water supply, has angered the public and led to a series of protests over the past year.

“The hospital is very old and doesn’t have fire equipment,” Karkh said. 

Attacks outside Baghdad kill at least 10 people
Iraqi officials say separate attacks outside Baghdad have killed at least 10 people. Police say the deadliest attack on Wednesdaytook place in the town of Latifiyah, where a suicide bomber struck an army checkpoint, killing four civilians and three soldiers. The town is located about 30 kilometers south of Baghdad. Police say three more civilians were killed and 12 wounded in a bomb explosion at an outdoor market in Baghdad’s southeast suburb. 


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