A fire at a temporary coronavirus hospital in northern Macedonia has left at least 14 people dead, said the country’s health minister, the latest in a series of fires in hospitals around the world where people were being treated with Covid-19.
All 14 were patients and 12 others being treated at the center were injured in the fire on Wednesday evening, said the country’s health minister, Venko Filipce. No health workers were reported injured, but the cause of the fire has not been determined in what Mr. Filipce described it as a terrible accident.
The fire was in a temporary hospital in Tetovo, in the northwest of the country, and started around 9 pm. It was extinguished within 45 minutes, but it was long enough for the flames to spread quickly through the building, a fire official told a local news outlet. outlet
Footage from the scene showed black smoky smoke rising as flames engulfed the hospital. Videos broadcast on local news stations showed fire trucks at the scene and wheelchairs scattered around the burnt shell of the structure, a modular one-story building.
We watched them burn alive and there was nothing we could do, a young woman, who had been visiting her father at the facility when the fire broke out, said the local news agency A1ONWith Him he managed to escape, but the two men who shared his room were killed, she said.
It all happened in a second, she said. We heard that something exploded, someone called fire and here began the whole drama that I do not wish on anyone.
Several similar deadly fires have previously occurred in hospitals and clinics for coronavirus patients, and some have been traced as sparks igniting the oxygen reservoirs used in treatment.
In July, at least 39 people were killed at a hospital in southern Iraq after an oxygen tank exploded in a ward where Covid-19 patients were being treated. In April, a fire caused by another oxygen tank explosion at a coronavirus hospital in Baghdad killed at least 82 people.
Earlier this year, a fire broke out in a Covid-19 ward in India as the country was battling a wave of coronavirus cases across the country, killing at least 18 people.
The fire in Tetovo was caused in part by the blasts, according to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who immediately opened an investigation. The prime minister’s office said the cause of the fire had not yet been determined, and declared three days of national mourning.
Sasho Trajcevski, deputy commander of the Tetovo fire brigade, told the local television station 360 that the plastic elements in the modular building had been fueled by the flames.
In a statement posted on social media, Mr. Zaev called the fire a great tragedy and expressed his condolences to the families of the dead.
The fire has been extinguished, but many lives have also been extinguished, he said, adding that emergency workers had done their best to save the people.
He vowed that authorities would determine the cause of the fire, noting that investigators were already at the scene. This is a truly tragic event and I can assure you that the entire state leadership is committed to resolving this situation quickly, he said.
International investigators will also be involved in assessing the causes of the fire. After an urgent government meeting on Thursday, Mr. Zaev said the government had accepted an offer from NATO allies to send experts to the country.
Northern Macedonia, where only 27 per cent of the estimated two million people have been fully vaccinated, has seen a wave of coronavirus infections since August. The country had set up 19 temporary hospitals to deal with the influx of patients during the pandemic.
Since gaining independence 30 years ago, northern Macedonia has worked to develop its national health system, but experts say key challenges remain. IN a 2018 reportThe World Health Organization said its health system suffered from a lack of funding, a lack of adequate equipment, and a lack of health care workers.
Alisa Dogramadzieva contributed reporting.
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