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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Baghdad's hospitals 'overwhelmed'
Wounded people being treated at al-Kindi hospital, Baghdad
Doctors are said to be exhausted
The fighting in Baghdad is taking an increasing toll on the Iraqi capital's hospitals, according to the Red Cross.

The director of the Red Cross team in the city, Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, said the start of ground operations by US troops in and around the city in recent days had led to a massive increase in doctors' workloads.

This contrasted with the situation during the aerial bombardment of the city in recent weeks, he said, when hospitals had mostly treated casualties with relatively light shrapnel injuries.

"Now when you have military engagement on the ground level, most people, at least the combatants, are hit much more seriously... it's all the more work for the doctors," Mr Huguenin-Benjamin told the BBC.

'Exhausted'

Just one of Baghdad's hospitals had carried out 60 serious operations in one day, he said. Doctors were exhausted and drug supplies, particularly anaesthetics, were running low.

Injured child at Baghdad hospital
The war has reportedly killed and wounded thousands of Iraqi civilians

One of the largest and most modern hospital complexes - the Medical City group of four hospitals - was now without power or water and just six of its 27 operating theatres were able to work, said Mr Benjamin.

The water station supplying the hospital had been hit, he said, and engineers were attempting to get it working again. In the meantime, the Red Cross is attempting to get water tankers to the hospital.

Mr Huguenin-Benjamin said he was also very concerned that another water pumping station in Baghdad had been put out of action, and that a large part of the city would soon be without water.

A doctor at al-Kindi hospital in the north-east of the city said he had had to treat "injuries to the head, to the chest, to the limbs".

The hospital only had enough medical supplies to last for another two days, he added.

A Red Cross spokeswoman in Geneva, Antonella Notari, said the organisation might need to bring extra supplies into Baghdad from warehouses in Iran, Kuwait, Jordan or Syria, depending on the length of the fighting, the number of new casualties and security guarantees.

The United Nations has described the situation in Baghdad's hospitals as "critical", while the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a health emergency both in Baghdad and in the country as a whole.




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