Iraqi Authorities Revise Down Death Toll in Covid Hospital Fire

NASIRIYA, Iraq — Regional officers on Thursday revised down the demise toll from a hearth that swept by means of a hospital’s coronavirus ward in southern Iraq this week, saying that they had confirmed 60 victims as a substitute of the 92 initially reported by the state information media.

The fireplace broke out late Monday in a newly constructed ward for coronavirus sufferers on the Imam Hussein Teaching Hospital in the southern metropolis of Nasiriya. It unfold rapidly, burning for 3 hours. The scene on the hospital was chaotic in the aftermath of the hearth, and regional officers gave differing demise tolls and explanations for the trigger.

By the top of Tuesday, two state-run Iraqi information media retailers had reported that 92 individuals had been useless, citing the well being ministry for Dhi Qar Province, which incorporates Nasiriya. But the well being ministry’s spokesman on the time, Amar Bashar, mentioned he had informed one of many state-run retailers that 72 individuals killed in the hearth had been recognized primarily based on data from the morgue in Nasiriya.

Mr. Bashar resigned later that day, and the pinnacle of the province’s well being ministry and the hospital chief had been fired — including to the issues surrounding the dissemination of details about the hearth.

Also on Tuesday, different well being ministry officers informed reporters that no less than 20 our bodies had been burned so badly that officers had been utilizing DNA assessments to establish them — a tally that, when mixed with the 72 our bodies the ministry mentioned had been recognized, would add as much as the reported determine of 92.

On Thursday, the provincial well being ministry mentioned the right demise toll was 60, and the central authorities in Baghdad gave the identical whole. Dr. Saadi al-Majed, who was appointed the pinnacle of that ministry after the earlier director was dismissed, mentioned on Wednesday that the forensics division had confirmed that quantity.

“Thirty-nine bodies exactly were handed to the families,” Dr. Majed mentioned. Another 21 units of badly burned stays had been despatched to Baghdad to be recognized by means of DNA. The Nasiriya morgue confirmed that 39 our bodies had been recognized and offered an inventory of names.

Falih Hassan and Awadh al-Taiee contributed reporting.