Formerly a highly regarded treatment centre, the Al-Shifa Hospital complex was overrun by ISIS and used as its headquarters in the Iraqi city before being recaptured when the terrorist group was driven out of Mosul.
The hospital, the second largest in Iraq and capable of treating up to 600 people at a time, suffered severe damage during the fighting and due to its importance as an ISIS HQ was rigged with an unprecedented number of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Once the fighting was over there was an urgent need to deal with the explosive threat left by ISIS at the hospital. On commencement of the clearance work Optima’s brief changed to focus on making safe areas of the hospital that contained vital working medical equipment that was to be transported to other medical establishments in eastern Iraq.
Optima’s team of specialists was deployed to clear the site of explosive threats, covering an area of 340,000 m2. Despite the challenges of unstable structures, darkness and debris ridden spaces, the Optima team managed to locate over 1800 explosive threats. These were complex devices and all very different in nature - from remote control and infra-red IEDs and improvised hand grenades, to missiles, IED components and suicide belts.
Following the Ministry of Health’s request to remove working medical equipment, Optima’s team first focused on clearing relevant buildings on a floor-by-floor basis. Once clear and confirmed safe, the medical equipment could be removed and utilised in other hospitals.
The complex is now clear of surface explosive threats and is ready for the next phase of reconstruction with plans to fully rehabilitate and furnish the maternity section, burns unit, X-ray unit and fertility centre within the Al-Shifa Hospital.
The video above highlights the scale of the clearance work required – both the difficult and challenging conditions that Optima’s team have to work in but also the complexity and high number of explosive threats faced.