The fire ripped through the Al Hussein hospital in the Iraqi city of Nassiriya.

People inspect the damage at the site where a fire broke out at Al Hussain coronavirus hospital, in Nassiriya, Iraq, July 13, 2021.
People inspect the damage at the site where a fire broke out at Al Hussain coronavirus hospital, in Nassiriya, Iraq, July 13, 2021. (Reuters)

At least 50 people died in a fire in the Covid isolation ward at a hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya, Iraqi health officials said.

"The victims died of burns and the search is continuing," Haydar al Zamili, a spokesperson for the local health authorities, said late on Monday. There are fears there are many victims still trapped inside the building, he added.

Sixteen people have been rescued so far, a medical source said late on Monday.

The fire was still ongoing, according to an AFP correspondent.

Videos shared online showed thick clouds of smoke billowing from the Al Hussein hospital.

Second tragedy

The blaze at the hospital is the second such tragedy this year.

In April, a fire at a Baghdad Covid-19 hospital killed 82 and injured 110, sparked by the explosion of badly stored oxygen cylinders.

Many of the victims were on respirators being treated for Covid-19 and were burned or suffocated in the resulting inferno that spread rapidly through the hospital, where dozens of relatives were visiting patients in the intensive care unit.

The then health minister, Hassan al Tamimi, resigned after the April fire.

Iraq - where the oil-reliant economy is still recovering from decades of war and insurgency and many people live in poverty - has recorded over 1.4 million Covid cases and more than 17,000 deaths.

READ MORE: Several dead in fire at Baghdad Covid hospital

Source: TRTWorld and agencies