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The New Arab

Fire at Baghdad hospital kills 13 newborn babies

Initial investigations suggest the fire was caused by an electricity failure [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 August, 2016

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An electrical fire erupted at a hospital in the Iraqi capital on Wednesday, killing 15 people, including 13 newborn babies.

An electrical fire erupted at a Baghdad hospital late on Tuesday, killing 15 people, including 13 newborn babies, officials have said.

Medic Ali al-Sarraj told The New Arab that another 36 people were injured when the blaze erupted overnight inside maternity department at Yarmuk hospital, in western Baghdad.

Iraq's Health Ministry spokesman, Ahmed al-Rudeini, said that 29 women patients were evacuated to other hospitals.

Rudeini added that an initial investigation suggests the fire was caused by an electricity failure just after midnight on Tuesday.

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.

Army Captain Jawad al-Haidari, however, told The New Arab that the cause of the blaze was still unknown at the hospital, which is one of the largest in the Iraqi capital.

Mobile phone footage from the scene showed firemen attempting to contain the fire.

      Witnesses complained that firemen were unacceptably slow [YouTube]

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.

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.

Witnesses complained that the fire brigade was unacceptably slow in responding to the emergency.

Iraq is one of the world's top oil producers but conflict and endemic graft have prevented that wealth from translating into better living conditions for Iraqis.

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