Iraq: Arson likely behind deadly maternity ward fire

A probe found ‘the presence of flammable materials at the site’ of a hospital where 13 premature babies were killed in Baghdad

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A fire that killed 13 children in an Iraqi maternity ward was apparently started intentionally, the health ministry’s spokesman said on Sunday.

Ahmed al-Rudeini had previously said the Wednesday fire at Yarmuk Hospital, one of the main such facilities in Baghdad, had been started by an electrical fault.

But an investigation found “the presence of flammable materials at the site, and this of course indicates the occurrence of arson,” he said, also raising the death toll from the blaze to 13 from 12.

Many of Baghdad’s public hospitals are poorly maintained and offer sub-standard healthcare, forcing a number of Iraqis to seek private treatment or travel abroad.

The lack of adequate public services, such as quality medical care, electricity and water supply, as well as widespread corruption in the country, has angered the public and led to a series of protests in the past year.

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