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April 7, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Red Cross: Baghdad Hospitals Overwhelmed
Red Cross Says Baghdad Hospitals Overwhelmed, No Longer Counting Casualties

The Associated Press


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GENEVA April 7

Overwhelmed hospitals in Baghdad are running out of drugs and anesthetics and are short of water and electricity, the Red Cross said Monday.

"There is no doubt really that the resources and staff of these places are really stretched to the limit," said Florian Westphal, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, the main aid agency left in Iraq. "They have very little power, if any. This morning, for example, they said they were functioning entirely with generators."

The organization also discovered that the number of casualties in Baghdad is so high that accurate statistics were impossible to maintain.

"Even the hospitals are having trouble keeping track of how many patients they have," Westphal said, adding that some injured people may be unable to reach hospitals.

Al-Kindi, one of the five major hospitals treating war wounded in Baghdad, received more than 50 casualties in a five-hour period Monday, Red Cross staff were told.

Westphal said the injuries were suffered in bombing and ground fighting, but it was unclear how many of the wounded Iraqis are civilians.

Westphal said Red Cross staff were trying to deliver drugs to al-Kindi the only hospital they were able to reach Monday because of the fighting in the city.

"Yesterday we managed to bring some drinking water to five different hospitals and established bladder tanks at three hospitals, but we are concerned," Westphal said. "A hospital especially one where surgery is being done needs a lot of water."

Outside of Baghdad, the Red Cross is receiving little information, Westphal said. In the southern city of Basra, staff stayed in their homes because it was considered too dangerous to go out.

Westphal said Red Cross staff in Baghdad were being inundated by Iraqis desperate to make phone calls to their families outside the country. The Red Cross has one satellite phone available and lets people use it to make two-minute calls.

"Despite the dangers, people were prepared to wait for more than an hour to make a call," Westphal said.

The Red Cross gave no estimates on the number of deaths in Iraq, and did not confirm U.S. Central Command estimates that between 2,000 and 3,000 Iraqi fighters were killed in Saturday's foray into Baghdad by American forces.


photo credit and caption:
An Iraqi woman cries whiles visiting relatives at the Al Kindi hospital Sunday, April 6, 2003, in Baghdad. The woman at right was injured during bombing raids near the Al-Rashid military complex on the outskirts of Baghdad Saturday. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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