The Macedonian Health Minister reported that 14 people died yesterday in a fire in a temporary hospital treating COVID-19 patients in North Macedonia.
The country’s Health Minister Venko Filipce said all 14 were patients, and 12 others were treated at the hospital center and suffered injuries during the fire that broke out Wednesday night. Mr. Filipce even described the event as a terrible accident and reported that no health workers were injured.
The fire was extinguished in 45 minutes. It happened around 9 at night in a mobile hospital in the Northeast of the country. A fire squad officer informed a local media outlet that the fire was quickly extinguished.
In some images that could be captured of the scene, a column of black smoke could be observed that rose while the flames burned in the hospital.
They later aired a video on the local news to show fire trucks arriving on the scene and wheelchairs strewn across the charred shell of the single-story modular building.
Investigative teams let the country’s prime minister, Zoran Zaev, know that explosions partly caused the fire, and he immediately asked police detectives to be involved in the investigation.
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The prime minister’s office reported that it was not yet known what the main cause of the fire was, and they also announced a decree of national mourning for three days.
Many countries have blamed the oxygen tanks used to treat COVID-19 patients for the serious fires at other Coronavirus clinics around the world.
In mid-July, at least 39 people died in a hospital in southern Iraq after one of these tanks exploded in a room treating COVID-19 patients.
On the other hand, in April, a fire was caused by the explosion of an oxygen tank in a COVID-19 hospital in Baghdad, which killed at least 82 people.
Tetovo fire department deputy commander Sasho Trajcevski told local television station 360 that plastic elements in the modular building had caused the flames.
Zaev called the fire a great tragedy and offered his condolences to the families of the deceased through a statement on social media.
In this sense, he expressed: “The fire has been extinguished, but many lives have also been extinguished.” After this, he added that emergency workers did everything in their power to save the most lives.
He took it upon himself to swear that the authorities would determine the cause of the fire and reported that investigators were already working on the case.
He said: “This is a truly tragic event, and I can assure you that the entire leadership of the state is committed to quickly resolving this situation.”