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Oxygen packing plant explosion injures four in Brazil, oxygen tank explosion in Iraq kills 82

26 April 2021

An explosion at an oxygen packing plant in Brazil injured four people on April 24. Elsewhere, a fire caused by an oxygen cylinder blast killed 82 people and injured around 110 at a hospital in Baghdad, Iraq on April 25. The incidents come at a time when both countries are struggling to cope with the demand for oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The explosion in Brazil on April 24 happened at a factory in the city of Fortaleza, northeastern Brazil. The owner of the plant, industrial gas maker White Martins, said that the production of oxygen in the region would not be affected. The factory was dedicated to filling cylinders with the gas before being distributed to hospitals. Many hospitals in Brazil have reportedly run out of oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients, Reuters news agency reports. The shortage is so bad in some places that oxygen has been flown in tanks across the country in an attempt to restock hospitals in the north of the country.

The explosion in Fortaleza injured four people working at the factory. White Martins said it had opened an investigation into the incident and said it would find an alternative place to continue filling cylinders with oxygen.

The following day, on April 25, a fire caused by an oxygen tank explosion in a Baghdad hospital killed at least 82 people with several more still missing. Around 110 people were injured in the incident at the COVID-19 hospital. Reuters reports that patients had to leap through windows to escape the flames.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said that the incident was a result of negligence and suspended the Health Minister, Hassan al-Tamimi, pending an inquiry. An investigation is underway to find the exact cause of the initial explosion with findings due to be published this week. Reuters reports that the governor of Baghdad and another senior health ministry official were also suspended and referred to investigators.

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