A fire has ripped through a hospital in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, killing 12 premature babies, local officials say.
Health Ministry spokesman, Ahmed al-Rudaini, said the blaze broke out at the maternity ward of Yarmouk hospital in western Baghdad late on Tuesday due to an electrical fault.
He further noted that 29 female patients, who were in the same ward, were transferred to other hospitals.
Meanwhile, an official at Iraq's Interior Ministry confirmed the death toll of 12, adding that three other babies were being treated for smoke inhalation.
Jassem Lateef al-Karkh, from the Baghdad health directorate, said that seven babies were saved and taken to another maternity ward in Baghdad.
An unidentified doctor at Yarmouk hospital also said, “Some of the dead babies were preemies but not all of them.”
It took about three hours for firefighters and hospital staff to put out the blaze, according to one medic, whose name was not mentioned in the reports.
Authorities initially sealed off the hospital but later allowed some media staff into the site.
Forensic teams started searching through the rubble and charred pieces of furniture while some relatives massed outside the hospital, demanding an answer from authorities over the incident.
Electrical fires are common across Iraq because of poor wiring and shoddy maintenance.
Thirteen years after the US-led invasion, the oil-rich country still suffers from poor infrastructure.
In 2003, the US, strongly backed by the UK, invaded Iraq under the pretext that the regime of the slain dictator, Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons, however, were ever found in Iraq.
More than one million Iraqis were killed as a result of the invasion and subsequent occupation of the country, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.