31 dead in Saudi Arabia hospital fire, over 100 injured
RIYADH // A fire ripped through a hospital in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, killing at least 31 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 teams of emergency workers had assisted in putting out the blaze in Jazan, the capital of Jizan province, it added.
The teams were able to evacuate the children and patients from the intensive care unit, the health ministry said on its Twitter account.
Al Riyadh daily quoted a civil defence spokesman as saying that the agency was alerted of the fire at 2:00am.
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 Arabia-led coalition has been battling the Houthi rebels and their allies since March.
* Agence France-Presse, Associated Press
Updated: December 24, 2015 04:00 AM