At least 14 lives were claimed by fire that broke out tonight at a hospital for patients with covid-19 in the predominantly Albanian town of Tetovo in northern Macedonia.
“So far, 14 victims have been confirmed, but there is also unofficial information that this number may increase to more than 30 dead, given that the terrain is still being searched,” wrote the Vesnik server. According to him, the victims include patients, their relatives and medical staff. Similarly, it informs about the disaster of Sitel television.
According to the Minister of Health, the previous balance of accidents amounted to ten victims, but Minister Venko Filipče added that this number could still increase. According to preliminary estimates, there were over 100 people in the building at the time of the fire.
The accident was preceded by an explosion, the first flames appeared at 21:00. Firefighters managed to get the fire under control in about an hour. During the fire, they took patients out of the building, which paramedics transported to hospitals in Skopje, 50 kilometers away.
Devastating scenes tonight in in the predominantly Albanian City of Tetova, North Macedonia, where there was an explosion at the Covid-19 hospital
14 reported deaths until nowpic.twitter.com/A3Mwskw2G3
— kos_data (@kos_data) September 8, 2021
The hospital was built specifically for patients with covid and consisted of mobile cells. These are largely made of plastic, which has contributed to the rapid and massive spread of fire. On video thick smoke of dark color is seen rising from the buildings.
“A huge tragedy has happened in the center of Tetovo. The explosion caused a fire. The fire was extinguished, but many lives were also extinguished. (…) I express my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased and I wish the wounded a speedy recovery, “said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who arrived at the scene of the accident.
The causes of the fire are not yet clear. A five-member team of experts has headed to Tetovo to find out.
North Macedonian hospitals are overloaded due to the pandemic. Only less than 28 percent of the population of two million countries have vaccinated against covid. Around 30 people die here every day due to covid complications, and the disease has claimed 6,129 lives in northern Macedonia since the beginning of the pandemic.
The AFP agency noted that the fire broke out at a time when the former Yugoslav Republic was celebrating the 30th anniversary of independence, but the celebrations were concentrated in the capital Skopje.