At least four infants died in a fire that broke out yesterday Monday in a maternity hospital in the city of Diwaniya in southern Iraq.

In a statement by the Red Crescent, it is stated that “150 children and 190 attendants” were hurriedly removed from the maternity hospital, after the fire that was attributed to a “short circuit”.

Iraqi Health Minister Saleh al-Hasnawi told a press conference that the fire started in a material storage area set up by a company that had undertaken renovation work on the hospital. The flames did not spread inside the hospital, he clarified. However, four infants died in the neonatal intensive care unit due to the smoke.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered the dismissal of those responsible for security measures at the maternity hospital and an investigation into possible responsibilities of the company that had undertaken the renovation work.

Violations of security protocols are frequently reported in Iraq, and the country’s infrastructure is in a state of disrepair after decades of conflict.

At the end of last September, around 100 people died in a fire caused by fireworks inside a packed wedding reception hall in northern Iraq.

In July 2021, a fire in the Covid ward of a hospital in southern Iraq had claimed the lives of more than 60 people.