By Sarah Townsend
Authorities have blamed a crowd of onlookers blocking emergency crews for the deaths of 24 people in a fire at a Jazan hospital on Christmas eve
Saudi authorities have announced a
review of all health facilities in the kingdom, in the aftermath of a tragic
fire at a hospital in Jazan that killed 24 people last week.
A total of 24 people died and 123 were injured when a
massive fire engulfed the Jazan General Hospital on Thursday.
The fire ripped through the intensive care unit and
maternity ward at the general hospital in the southwestern port city of Jazan,
in one of Saudi Arabia’s poorest areas.
Saudi health minister Khalid Al Falih announced on Saturday
that a comprehensive study of all hospitals and other health facilities will be
carried out to avoid recurrence of such of such incidents, according to Arab
The ministry will ensure safety plans are implemented and
hospital employees receive emergency fire training, he said.
Al Falih made the comments during a visit to the hospital
this weekend where he surveyed the damage and was informed about the efforts
made by the civil defense squads to extinguish the fire.
The ministry will continue to provide services to patients
at Jazan through other hospitals in the region, the newspaper reported.
And the hospital will be repaired and reopened only after
authorities have made sure it is equipped to prevent future emergencies.
One official was quoted by Reuters last week
as saying a crowd that gathered at a hospital when the fire broke out had
obstructed rescue workers, while others blamed poor safety standards.
Arab News said a source at the Ministry of Health’s
investigation committee suggested that the fire spread quickly because of foam
insulation and oxygen pipes in the ceiling.
“The space between them and the ceiling is about a meter,
and that led to the spread of smoke through the air conditioning vents, causing
the deaths of 24 people and injuries to 123 due to smoke inhalation,” the
source was quoted as saying.
But the Jazan governor said only: “We are working together
to solve all accidents in the public and private facilities.
“There are many reasons and we don’t want to be too quick in
making a judgment, and must wait for the results of the committee.”