Fire at North Macedonia Covid Hospital Kills at Least 14

A hearth at a short lived coronavirus hospital in North Macedonia has left at least 14 folks useless, the nation’s well being minister stated, the newest in a sequence of blazes at hospitals around the globe the place folks with Covid-19 had been being handled.

All of the 14 had been sufferers, and 12 others being handled at the middle had been injured within the hearth, on Wednesday night, the nation’s well being minister, Venko Filipce, stated. No well being staff had been reported injured, however the reason for the hearth has not been decided in what Mr. Filipce described as a “terrible accident.”

The hearth was at a short lived hospital in Tetovo, within the nation’s northwest, and started at round 9 p.m. It was extinguished inside 45 minutes, however that was lengthy sufficient for the flames to unfold rapidly by means of the constructing, one hearth official instructed an area information outlet.

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

“We watched them burn alive and there was nothing we could do,” one younger girl, who had been visiting her father at the power when the hearth broke out, instructed the native information outlet A1ON. He managed to make it to security, however the two males sharing his room had been killed, she stated.

“Everything happened in a second,” she stated. “We heard something explode, someone called out ‘fire’ and here began the whole drama that I do not wish on anyone.”

Several equally lethal fires have occurred earlier than at hospitals and clinics for coronavirus sufferers, and a few have been traced to sparks igniting oxygen tanks being utilized in remedy.

In July, at least 39 folks had been killed at a hospital in southern Iraq after an oxygen tank explosion in a ward the place Covid-19 sufferers had been being handled. In April, a fireplace attributable to one other oxygen tank explosion at a coronavirus hospital in Baghdad killed at least 82.

Earlier this yr, a blaze tore by means of a Covid-19 ward in India because the nation was grappling with a wave of coronavirus circumstances nationwide, killing at least 18 folks.

The hearth in Tetovo was pushed partly by explosions, based on Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who instantly opened an investigation. The prime minister’s workplace stated the reason for the hearth had but to be decided, and introduced three days of nationwide mourning.

Sasho Trajcevski, the deputy commander of the Tetovo hearth division, instructed the native tv station 360 that the plastic parts within the modular constructing had fed the flames.

In a press release posted on social media, Mr. Zaev referred to as the hearth a “great tragedy” and supplied his condolences to the households of the useless.

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

He pledged that the authorities would decide the reason for the hearth, noting that investigators had 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 stated.

International investigators will even participate in assessing the causes of the hearth. After an emergency authorities assembly on Thursday, Mr. Zaev stated that the federal government had accepted a suggestion from NATO allies to ship consultants to the nation.

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 momentary 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 stated that its well being system suffered from underfunding, a scarcity of enough gear and a scarcity of well being care staff.

Alisa Dogramadzieva contributed reporting.