At Least 14 Dead in Fire at North Macedonia Covid Hospital

A hearth at a brief hospital the place coronavirus sufferers have been being handled in North Macedonia has left at least 14 individuals lifeless, the nation’s well being minister mentioned.

All 14 have been sufferers, and 12 others being handled at the middle suffered accidents in the hearth that broke out Wednesday night, the nation’s well being minister, Venko Filipce, mentioned. No well being staff have been reported injured what Mr. Filipce described as a “terrible accident.”

The hearth, which started at round 9 p.m. at a cellular hospital in Tetovo, in the nation’s northwest, was extinguished inside 45 minutes, nevertheless it had unfold rapidly by way of the constructing, one hearth official advised an area information outlet.

Footage from the scene confirmed a plume of black smoke rising as flames engulfed the hospital. Videos aired afterward native information confirmed hearth vehicles at the scene and wheelchairs scattered across the charred shell of the construction, a one-story modular constructing.

The blaze was pushed in half by explosions, based on the nation’s prime minister, Zoran Zaev, who instantly launched an investigation. The prime minister’s workplace mentioned the reason for the hearth had but to be decided, and that three days of nationwide mourning had been introduced.

Oxygen tanks getting used to deal with sufferers with extreme Covid-19 have been blamed for lethal fires at different coronavirus clinics around the globe. In July, at least 39 individuals have been killed at a hospital in southern Iraq after an oxygen tank explosion in a ward the place Covid-19 sufferers have been being handled. In April, a fireplace brought on by an oxygen tank explosion at a coronavirus hospital in Baghdad killed at least 82 individuals.

Sasho Trajcevski, the deputy commander of the Tetovo hearth division, advised the native tv station 360 that the plastic components in the modular constructing had pushed the flames.

In an announcement posted on social media, Mr. Zaev referred to as the hearth a “great tragedy” and provided his condolences to the households of the lifeless.

“The fire has been extinguished, but many lives have also been extinguished,” he mentioned, whereas including that emergency staff had achieved their finest to avoid wasting lives.

He pledged that the authorities would decide the reason for the hearth, and famous that investigators have been already at the scene. “This is a truly tragic event and I can assure you that the entire state leadership is committed to rapidly resolving this situation,” he mentioned.

North Macedonia, the place simply 27 % of about two million residents have been totally vaccinated, has seen a wave of coronavirus infections since August. The nation had put in place 19 non permanent modular hospitals to take care of the inflow of sufferers in the course of the pandemic.

Since attaining independence 30 years in the past, North Macedonia has labored to develop its nationwide well being system, however consultants say that main challenges stay. In a 2018 report, the World Health Organization mentioned that the well being system suffered from underfunding, an absence of satisfactory tools and a scarcity of well being care staff.

Alisa Dogramadzieva contributed reporting.