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Iraqis blame corruption, mismanagement for hospital fire

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Iraqis have condemned the fire accident which claimed over 80 lives in a Baghdad Covid-19 hospital. 

Iraqis lamented that the fire on Sunday April 25, 2021, is a proof of the "deadly consequences of mismanagement and corruption". 

They blamed Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi, who was suspended Sunday, with calls for him to be sacked resounding across social media.

The deadly inferno broke out overnight Sunday at Baghdad's Ibn al-Khatib hospital, blamed on poorly stored oxygen cylinders.

The interior ministry said 82 people were killed and 110 people injured, AFP reported.

An official with the Iraqi Human Rights Commission said 28 of those killed were patients who were taken off critical ventilators to escape the flames.

The evacuation was slow, painful and chaotic, with patients and their relatives crammed into stairwells as they scrambled for exits.

President Barham Saleh tweeted on Sunday "the tragedy at Ibn al-Khatib is the result of years of erosion of state institutions by corruption and mismanagement".

A doctor at the hospital said that "in the whole Covid intensive care unit, there were no emergency exits or fire prevention systems".

Witnesses and doctors reported that many bodies had yet to be identified, the remains too charred by the intense flames.

"It's mismanagement that killed these people," the doctor added, who, on condition of anonymity, angrily listed the hospital's many shortcomings.

"Managers walk around smoking in the hospital where oxygen cylinders are stored," he said.

"Even in intensive care, there are always two or three friends or relatives at a patient's bedside."

And, he added, "this doesn't just happen at Ibn al-Khatib, it's like this in all the public hospitals".

"When equipment breaks down, our director tells us not to report it," said a nurse, in another hospital in Baghdad.

"He says it would give a bad image of his establishment, but in reality, we have nothing that works."

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