Hotel fire in southern Iraq kills child

Karbala civil defence authorities rescue 78 people

People light up candles for a vigil in mourning for the victims of the fire at al-Hussein Hospital in Iraq's southern city of Nasiriyah. AFP
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A fire broke out at a hotel in Iraq’s southern city of Karbala on Sunday killing one child, civil defence officials said.

Fire fighters and civil defence teams managed to rescue 78 people after the blaze inside the four-story Dai Al Hussain Hotel in the centre of the city.

The cause of the fire has not been disclosed, although authorities said an investigation has been opened.

“A girl died in hospital due to smoke inhalation which caused her to suffocate despite attempts to resuscitate her,” civil defence statement said.

There have been numerous fires in Iraq this year, including in a Covid-19 facility in the southern city of Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar governorate, which killed more than 60 people.

Police have said the blaze at Al Hussein hospital earlier this month was due to faulty wiring that caused an oxygen tank to explode.

Citizens blame corruption, negligence and mismanagement in various sectors of government for the disasters.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi ordered the arrest of top health officials last week, following the deadly fire in Nasiriyah.

President Barham Salih and Mr Al Kadhimi blamed the fire on negligence cause by corruption and political interference in the management of the hospital, and vowed to take action.

Iraq's former health minister, Hassan Al Timimi, resigned in April following a fire in Baghdad's Ibn Al Khateeb hospital that killed at least 82 people. Most of them were Covid-19 patients who needed ventilators to help them breathe.

The cause of the fire was also an oxygen tank explosion.

The coronavirus pandemic has put a heavy strain on Iraq's health services.

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic hospitals across the country were already struggling to provide patients with a good standard of care.

The healthcare system has been affected by years of mismanagement, a lack of accountability, violence and factionalism since the US-led invasion in 2003, and before that by years of sanctions.

Updated: July 18, 2021, 10:58 AM