Baghdad: A fire tore through the maternity ward of one of Baghdad's largest hospitals on Wednesday, killing at least 11 premature babies, medical and security sources said.
Health ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Rudeini told AFP the blaze at the Yarmuk hospital in west Baghdad was started by an electrical fault just after midnight (2100 GMT Tuesday).
"Twenty-nine women patients who were in the same ward were evacuated to other hospitals in the capital," he said.
Rudeini added in a statement that seven children were saved from the fire and taken to other maternity wards in Baghdad.
Security services sealed off the area as forensic teams searched the gutted ward and angry relatives massed outside, waiting for information from the authorities.
An official at Iraq's interior ministry confirmed the death toll from the fire, adding that three other babies were being treated for smoke inhalation.
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, has angered the public and led to a series of protests over the past year.