iraq maternity fire damon pkg_00021323.jpg
iraq maternity fire damon pkg_00021323.jpg
Now playing
02:24
Iraqi couple in agony after losing baby in hospital fire
Fred Pleitgen/CNN
Now playing
03:21
US planes spy on ISIS from edge of space
inside mosuls liberated neighborhoods black pkg_00000000.jpg
inside mosuls liberated neighborhoods black pkg_00000000.jpg
Now playing
02:51
Inside liberated Mosul neighborhoods
Now playing
02:15
How will Trump handle Iraq?
kurdistan 24
Now playing
02:16
ISIS ambush in Kirkuk
google maps
Now playing
02:17
US service member killed in action in northern Iraq
isis drone use mosul nick paton walsh dnt_00001722.jpg
isis drone use mosul nick paton walsh dnt_00001722.jpg
Now playing
02:43
ISIS using drones in battle for Mosul
iraq forces mosul michael holmes lkv_00015709.jpg
iraq forces mosul michael holmes lkv_00015709.jpg
Now playing
03:27
Iraqi-led forces push into ISIS territory
mosul most intense day fighting damon dnt _00004210.jpg
mosul most intense day fighting damon dnt _00004210.jpg
Now playing
02:44
Mosul: Most intense day of fighting
 Iraqi Troops Mosul damon lkl_00003730.jpg
Iraqi Troops Mosul damon lkl_00003730.jpg
Now playing
01:53
Iraqi troops enter Christian town on outskirts of Mosul
Iraqi refugees debunk ISIS' portrayal of Mosul
CNN
Iraqi refugees debunk ISIS' portrayal of Mosul
Now playing
02:12
Iraqi refugees debunk ISIS' portrayal of Mosul
Iraq Mosul ISIS tunnels Damon lkl _00020013.jpg
Iraq Mosul ISIS tunnels Damon lkl _00020013.jpg
Now playing
02:24
Exploring ISIS tunnels near Mosul
battle for mosul paton walsh pkg_00023629.jpg
battle for mosul paton walsh pkg_00023629.jpg
Now playing
01:16
Dramatic moments from the battle for Mosul

Story highlights

Preliminary report suggests fire was caused by an electrical fault

The blaze is the latest tragedy to fuel Iraqi public anger at inept governance

(CNN) —  

Shaima Hussein should have left Baghdad’s Yarmouk hospital on Wednesday cradling her newborn son, her firstborn, conceived after years of struggle.

For years, Hussein and her husband, Moad, tried desperately to conceive. They went into debt and sold their car to pay for in-vitro fertilization.

Yman, their miracle baby, was born Tuesday via cesarean section.

“I can’t describe the feeling. I didn’t care if it was a boy or girl,” she said. “I wanted to give my child the best life, the best things.”

Less than a day later, he was gone, and Hussein left the hospital clutching a bundle of paperwork, the bureaucratic remains of a young life cut short.

Yman was among 11 babies who died of suffocation after a fire broke out in the hospital’s maternity ward.

Some were just hours old, resting in incubators in the preterm birth unit, when a short circuit occurred in an air conditioning unit, according to a preliminary report provided by the Civil Defense.

Oxygen from those incubators fueled the flames, a security source at the scene said, leaving behind a mess of charred vessels and devastated parents.

’Their corruption has reached infants’

The fire triggered outrage in a country where electrical fires are common in antiquated buildings that are poorly maintained.

“In the new Iraq, people don’t live more than hours,” wrote one Twitter user.

After night of burning and bombing, mourning in Baghdad

People directed their anger at the government, citing incompetent management of the country’s fraying infrastructure and its apparent inability to protect citizens.

“We never hear that the parliament or the president’s office have burnt down, only the institutions where the poor people go,” wrote another.

Burned incubators stand outside Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital Wednesday after a deadly fire.
SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
Burned incubators stand outside Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital Wednesday after a deadly fire.

Some called for the resignation of the country’s health minister.

“Their corruption has reached infants only hours old,” wrote another Twitter user.

The blaze was just the latest tragedy to strike Iraq, which is locked in a battle to oust ISIS militants controlling large swaths of territory, including the country’s second city, Mosul. Tempers boiled over in the capital last month in the wake of a massive ISIS car bombing in the largely Shiite Karrada neighborhood. About 300 people were killed, many of them perishing in an ensuing inferno in a shopping center.

’I don’t know whether they are alive’

Yarmouk, one of Baghdad’s main hospitals, is in the western part of the city. While firefighters entered the charred, waterlogged building on Wednesday, nervous families gathered outside the ward, awaiting news of their loved ones.

The 29 women who recently gave birth in the ward were rescued and transferred, along with surviving infants, to other hospitals in the Iraqi capital, said Ahmed al-Rdainy, a spokesman for the Iraqi Health Ministry.

But Hassan Omar could not find his newborn twins, a girl and a boy, anywhere.

“I don’t know whether they are still alive or not,” he told reporters outside Yarmouk.

Bereaved family members of the dead infants gather outside Yarmouk hospital Wednesday.
Karim Kadim/AP
Bereaved family members of the dead infants gather outside Yarmouk hospital Wednesday.

Amid the pandemonium, the Husseins searched for their son.

The pain of Shaima Hussein’s C-section ceased to exist.

“I couldn’t feel the operation at all. It was as if my stomach wasn’t sewn up. I forgot my phone, I forgot my scarf, I forgot everything. My whole face was covered in black soot. I was in shock,” she said.

“I was asking, ‘Where is my son?’”

They found his blackened body at the hospital morgue. Positive DNA testing will make it official, but a mother knows her son.

“His name was there and I recognized him,” Hussein said.

A woman speaks on the phone Wednesday outside Yarmouk hospital in west Baghdad, Iraq.
SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
A woman speaks on the phone Wednesday outside Yarmouk hospital in west Baghdad, Iraq.

CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali, Schams Elwazer and Tim Hume contributed to this report.