Covid patient unit fire leaves 14 dead in Northern Macedonia

Covid patient unit fire leaves 14 dead in Northern Macedonia

Police and firefighters inspect the fire site – AFP

At least 14 people died in a fire in a unit for patients with Covid-19 of a hospital in North Macedonia, announced the authorities of the country of the Balkans.

The fire broke out on Wednesday night after an explosion at Covid-19’s new patient unit at Tetovo hospital in northwestern Mozambique.

“A huge tragedy has occurred at the Covid-19 unit in Tetovo,” announced Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who immediately headed to the small town.

“An explosion caused a fire. The fire was put out, but many lives were lost”, lamented the head of Government.

At least 14 people died in the tragedy, announced the Public Ministry on Thursday. The first balance sheet cited 10 fatalities.

“Prosecutors ordered an autopsy to identify the 14 dead people and we are continuing to investigate to determine if there are other victims,” ​​the MP said in a statement. “No member of the medical team is among the dead,” he added.

The tragedy happened as the former Yugoslav republic celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence with festivities in the capital Skopje, such as a military parade and a concert by the national philharmonic.

The flames destroyed part of the modular structures recently built in the hospital center to receive covid-19 patients. The government did not disclose the number of people who were at the unit, which has a capacity for 35 people.

Authorities have not determined what caused the explosion. An investigation is ongoing.

“The fight for life always happens and all services are sacrificed to save people,” said Prime Minister Zaev, who expressed “deep condolences to the relatives and friends of the deceased.”

The fire was notified around 19:00 GMT to firefighters, who claimed to have controlled the flames within 45 minutes.

“The fire was huge because the hospital is modular and had a lot of plastic,” said the deputy commander of Tetovo firefighters, Saso Trajcevski.

“We removed the victims while we were putting out the flames”, he added.

Twelve patients who were in the modular structures were taken to the main buildings of the hospital in Tetovo, according to the newspaper Sloboden Pecat.

The modular unit that serves patients with covid was built last year in the hospital complex of Tetovo, a city of 52,000, many of whom are part of the Albanian minority of Northern Macedonia.

The country, with 2 million inhabitants and with poor health services, has recently registered an increase in the number of people infected with the new coronavirus due to the delta variant, with an average of 30 deaths per day.

The pandemic caused more than 6,100 deaths in the country.

Hospitals are on the brink of collapse in some cities, particularly those with low vaccination rates.

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