AT least twelve prematurely born babies were killed in a fire that broke out in the early hours of Wednesday on a maternity ward in a Baghdad hospital and was probably caused by an electrical fault, Iraqi authorities said.
Eleven or twelve other babies and 29 women were rescued from the Yarmuk hospital’s maternity ward and transferred to other hospitals, Hani al-Okabi, an MP who previously managed a health directorate in Baghdad, told journalists after visiting the hospital and talking to the management.
Al Jazeera stated that fire-fighters and hospital staff took about three hours to put out the blaze that engulfed the ward, according to one medic. Yarmuk is a main hospital on the western side of the capital, with emergency care facilities among others.
“My son’s birth was difficult,” Shaima Hussein, one of the babies’ mothers, told Reuters news agency at the gate of the hospital. She said she was not given a chance to rescue her newborn.
“I came with milk powder for him, and then this happened … they shut the electricity and the doors,” she said.
Hassan Omar said he was upset that the hospital would not give him information about his twins other than that he may have to have DNA checks to see if they were among the dead.
“I went to the other hospital, they are not there, so where are they?” he said.
The incident is likely to intensify public accusations of state corruption and mismanagement.
Pictures posted on social media showed the hospital in a state of neglect, with cockroaches crawling out from between broken tiles, dustbins overflowing with rubbish, dirty toilets and patients lying on stretchers in the courtyard.