A police officer walks past burned hospital equipment in North Macedonia's northwestern city of Tetovo. AP
Fourteen people have died in a fire at a hospital treating coronavirus patients in North Macedonia, authorities said on Thursday.
The fire broke out following an explosion in a Covid-19 clinic in Tetovo in the northwest of the Balkan country, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who immediately headed to the town.
The blaze occurred late on Wednesday in the western city of Tetovo, where the facility was set up following a recent spike in infections in the region.
Police officers investigate the site at a burned out makeshift hospital after a fire in North Macedonia on Thursday. AP
"A huge tragedy has occurred in the Tetovo Covid-19 centre," Zaev said on Twitter. "An explosion caused a fire. The fire was extinguished but many lives were lost."
At least 10 people died in the disaster, Health Minister Venko Filipce said.
"That number could rise," he said on Twitter, expressing his "profound condolences" to the victims' families.
Health Ministry officials said injured medical staff and patients along with over evacuees were being transferred to hospitals in the capital Skopje, some 45 kilometres (28 miles) to the east.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in a Facebook post that the blaze followed an explosion at the site.
Ten people are reported to have perished. AP
With less than 30% of the country’s population fully vaccinated, North Macedonia has seen a significant spike in infections and deaths since late August.
The fire occurred as the former Yugoslav republic celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence, with festivities in the capital Skopje, including a military parade, authorities said.
The country has reported a rise in coronavirus infections recently, with the daily death toll reaching around 30.
It has recorded more than 6,100 fatalities in total since the start of the pandemic.
More than 70 patients were evacuated from the Sunrise Hospital to other hospitals in the city, local civic officials said, adding that the cause of the fire was being investigated.
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Oleksander Starukh said the fire broke out on the first floor of the hospital where patients were on ventilators. He said eight other patients unit were evacuated.
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