A fire destroyed a maternity ward at a hospital in Baghdad Tuesday night, killing 12 newborn babies, Iraqi government officials said Wednesday. They attributed the blaze to faulty electrical wiring, ABC News reported.
“I only found charred pieces of flesh,” 30-year-old father Hussein Omar said between sobs. A construction worker, Omar had just become a father last week. After searching in vain for his children at the hospital, he found them in the morgue. “I want my baby boy and girl back. The government must give them back to me.”
Omar was only one of many grief-stricken fathers searching the Yarmouk hospital in western Baghdad for their missing newborns in vain. Angry relatives blamed the government for the tragedy.
Here is a photo of a charred incubator, where one of the babies was held.
At least 11 babies died when a fire broke out in maternity ward of a Baghdad hospital, Iraqi Health Ministry says. https://t.co/jzqYaS2LkX
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) August 10, 2016
The hospital director, Saad Hatem Ahmed, said the fire broke out on Tuesday night and that the initial investigation indicated it was an electrical fire. He added that 29 female patients and eight babies were moved from the ward before the fire broke out and transferred to another hospital.
“Some of the babies were preemies but not all of them,” one of the doctors told ABC News, on the condition of anonymity.
36-year-old mom Shaima Hassan trembled in shock after learning she had lost her two-day-old son. She had spent more than a year visiting hospitals in and outside Iraq, trying to conceive.
“I waited ages to have this baby and when I finally had him, it took only a second to lose him,” she wailed, holding charred documents in her hands. When the fire broke out, she and her husband tried to reach their newborn son, but were stopped by a wall of thick smoke. “People started screaming, ‘Fire, fire’ and running,” she recalled. “Then someone broke a window and threw me out.”
Forty-one-year-old Eshrak Ahmed Jaasar said she was unable to find her four-day-old nephew. “I came early this morning to see my nephew and his mother, but they told me about the fire,” she said. “My nephew is still missing and his mother was moved to another hospital ward.”
“We pay the hospital employees thousands of Iraqi dinars to allow us in to get our loved ones basic food and milk, which they cannot provide,” Jassar added, bitterly. “It’s a corrupt government that doesn’t care about its citizens and lets this happen.”
Sadly, electrical fires are common throughout Baghdad and across the country due to poor wiring and bad maintenance. ABC News reported that construction companies fail to follow accepted standards.