Officials say flames ripped through modular building because of the amount of plastic.
Authorities say at least ten people died after a fire swept through a temporary hospital in North Macedonia that was treating coronavirus patients.
The fire broke out in Tetovo, in the northwest of the Balkan country, on Wednesday evening, according to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who promptly went to the town.
On Twitter, Zaev wrote, “A great tragedy has occurred in the Tetovo COVID-19 centre.” “A fire was started by an explosion. Although the fire was put out, many lives were lost.”
On Twitter, Health Minister Venko Filipche expressed his “deep condolences” to the victims’ families, saying, “At this time, ten people have been confirmed to have died, but that number could climb.”
Local media showed images of a huge blaze at the hospital in the town’s west as firefighters raced to the scene. The fire was extinguished after a few hours.
It was unclear how many patients were in the hospital when the fire broke out at approximately 9pm local time (19:00 GMT), a senior government official told the Reuters news agency, declining to be named.
Last year, the hospital built the modular COVID-19 unit to care for coronavirus patients in the town of 50,000 people.
“The fire was huge because the hospital is modular and there was plastic,” said Saso Trajcevski, deputy fire chief of Tetovo.
“While put out the flames, we took out victims.”
Several people were injured and rushed to hospitals in Skopje, the country’s capital.
North Macedonia has a population of about two million, and its healthcare services are run down.
Since mid-August, the number of cases of the Coronavirus has increased, prompting the government to introduce stricter social measures such as health passes for cafés and restaurants.
In the last 24 hours, the country has seen 701 new coronavirus infections and 24 deaths.
Tetovo, which is mostly inhabited by ethnic Albanians, has one of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases in the country.
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