Iraq health minister resigns over deadly hospital fire

Iraq health minister resigns over deadly hospital fire
2 min read
While Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi had opted to suspend him in the wake of the fire, Hassan al-Tamimi stepped down of his own accord, a government statement said.
Hassan al-Tamimi joined the government with the backing of powerful Shia leader Moqtada Sadr [AFP/Getty]

Iraq's health minister resigned on Tuesday, ten days after a fire in a Baghdad Covid-19 hospital killed more than 80 people.

Hassan al-Tamimi, who joined the government with the backing of powerful Shia leader Moqtada Sadr, stepped down of his own accord, a government statement said.

The fire, which killed 82 and injured 110, triggered outrage on social media, with a widespread hashtag demanding the health minister be sacked.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, a non-partisan independent who regularly extends a hand to the Sadrists -- the largest parliamentary bloc - had opted to suspend Tamimi in the wake of the fire, along with a slew of other officials.

The government statement added the cabinet had revoked Tamimi's suspension earlier Tuesday, along with that of Baghdad's governor - both highly politicised positions in a system known for its clientelism.

The blaze broke out in the pre-dawn hours of April 25,
sparked by the explosion of badly stored oxygen cylinders. 

Read also: Baghdad hospital fire: what happened and what it tells us about Iraq's health system

Many of the victims were on respirators being treated for Covid-19 and were burned or suffocated in the resulting inferno that spread rapidly through the hospital, where dozens of relatives were visiting patients in the intensive care unit.

The results of the probe into the incident blamed lower-rung officials.

The director of the Ibn al-Khatib hospital, his administrative deputy, the head of the hospital's civil defence and the head of the health department in eastern Baghdad "were dismissed and will be subject to several disciplinary measures", the government statement said.

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