11 premature babies burned alive in hospital fire
A fire that erupted overnight in a hospital in Baghdad has killed 11 newborn babies in the latest tragedy to hit the Iraqi capital.
Ahmed al-Roudaini, a spokesperson for Iraq's health ministry, said the blaze broke out in the maternity department of Yarmouk hospital late on Tuesday night.
Firefighters took three hours to douse the flames at the facility, which is the main hospital in western Baghdad and houses emergency care and teaching facilities.
Officials said the fire spread from a hospital lounge, destroying part of the maternity ward and a lobby.
Al-Mada Press an independent news agency in Baghdad, reported that 29 female patients and seven babies were moved from the ward where the fire broke out and transferred to another hospital.
Initial investigations suggested it started as an electrical fire, which are commonly caused by maintenance and wiring issues in Iraq.
The incident is likely to intensify accusations of state corruption and mismanagement, with 2013 recommendations to reduce fire risks in municipal buildings having little effect.
Thirteen years after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the oil-rich country still suffers a shortage of electricity, water, schools and hospitals.
Pictures posted on social media recently showed Yarmouk 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.
The relative of a patient who died recently in the hospital from meningitis said he saw cockroach crawling along the tube of an oxygen mask.
"It was so dirty," he said. "We had to bring our own bed sheets."