Saudi Arabia: Several people killed in hospital fire

saudi fire
A handout image from the Saudi Civil Defense agency showing firefighters outside the Jazan General Hospital, on December 24, 2015

 

France 24

A fire ripped through a hospital in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, killing at least 25 people and injuring 107, the authorities said.

The blaze broke out in the intensive care unit and the maternity department of the Jazan General Hospital in the kingdom’s south, the civil defence agency said on Twitter.

It said in an update later that the fire had been extinguished and an investigation was under way into the cause.

Twenty-one civil defence teams had assisted in putting out the blaze, it added.

Alriyadh daily quoted a civil defence spokesman as saying that the agency was alerted of the fire at 2:00 am (2300 GMT Wednesday).

In August, 10 people were killed and 259 wounded in a fire at a residential complex rented by oil giant Saudi Aramco in the kingdom’s Eastern Province.

That fire was ignited by an electric short circuit in the underground car park, according to the authorities.

Thursday’s fire sparked a wave of criticism among social media users who complained that Jizan province, especially its hospitals, suffers from inadequate infrastructure.

“We must be frank. Jizan had been neglected by the state” for decades, wrote a Twitter user named Ahmed.

“Maybe this catastrophe could put the spotlight on the disastrous situation of hospitals in Jazan… Even though we have little hope” for this, wrote another user.

Others called for health minister Khalid al-Falih to be sacked.

Civilians in Jazan have also been victims of frequent missile attacks by Iran-backed rebels in neighbouring Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Shiite Huthi insurgents and their allies since March.

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