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At least 27 dead after fire tears through Iraq hospital treating COVID-19 patients

At least 27 people were killed and 46 injured in a fire on Saturday at a hospital in southeastern Baghdad that had been equipped to house COVID-19 patients, medical sources at three nearby hospitals said.

The fire at the Ibn Khatib hospital in the Diyala Bridge area of the Iraqi capital occurred after an accident caused an oxygen tank to explode, the sources said.

Many ambulances were rushing towards the hospital, ferrying away those hurt by the fire, a Reuters photographer nearby said.

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Patients not injured in the incident were also being transferred out of the hospital, the medical sources said.

The head of Iraqi civil defense unit said the fire broke out in the floor designated for the pulmonary intensive care unit and that 90 people have been rescued from the hospital out of 120, state news agency INA quoted him as saying.

Major General Kadhim Bohan added that the fire has been put out.

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Iraq’s healthcare system, already ruined by decades of sanctions, war and neglect, has been stretched during the coronavirus crisis.

The total number of people infected with COVID-19 in Iraq is 102,5288 including 15,217 deaths, the health ministry said on Saturday.

(Reporting by Baghdad newsroom and Alaa Swailem; Writing by John Davison; Editing by Leslie Adler and Daniel Wallis)

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