At least 11 prematurely born babies were killed in a fire that broke out in the early hours of Wednesday on a maternity ward in a Baghdad hospital and was probably caused by an electrical fault, reports Reuters.
Seven other babies and 29 women were rescued from the Yarmuk hospital's maternity ward and transferred to another hospital, the ministry said in a statement.
Firefighters took three hours to put out the blaze that engulfed the ward, according to a medical staffer. Yarmuk is main hospital on the western side of the capital, with emergency care and teaching facilities among others.
The incident is likely to intensify public accusations of state corruption and mismanagement.
Pictures posted on social media showed the hospital in a state of neglect, with cockroaches crawling out from between broken tiles, dustbins overflowing with rubbish, dirty toilets and patients lying on stretchers in the courtyard.
The relative of a patient who died recently in the hospital from meningitis said he saw cockroach crawling along the tube of an oxygen mask.
"It was so dirty," he said. "We had to bring our own bed sheets."
Thirteen years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the oil-rich country still suffers a shortage of electricity, water, schools and hospitals.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been trying for more than two years to tackle corruption in Iraq, which ranks 161 out of 168 on Transparency International's Corruption Index, but has faced due to resistance from much of the political elite.