Bucharest, Romania | A new fire at a hospital in Romania, the third in less than a year, has killed nine COVID-19 patients in Constanta (southeast), officials say.
“Nine patients have died in a fire at the hospital’s intensive care unit for infectious diseases in Constanta,” said the General Inspectorate of Human Services, a Romanian city on the Black Sea coast. Emergency (IGSU) press release.
“Firefighters are still inside the hospital, but the fire has been extinguished,” local inspectorate spokesman Razwan Parkoni told AFP. According to him, a hundred patients had to be evacuated.
The cause of the fire is not known at present and an investigation has been launched, Health Minister Attila Sise said.
Gathered in front of the hospital, relatives of the victims accused the authorities of “incompetence”.
“History is repeating itself, and nothing has been done to improve the conditions in the hospitals,” said a woman who said her mother died in a fire, according to images broadcast live on local television.
Her Stella Holichidis Hospital director assured that many of the failures identified during the inspection of the electrical and heating installations in January had been rectified.
The tragedy comes amid a particularly severe fourth wave of the coronavirus epidemic, the lack of intensive care beds in the country.
On Thursday, more than 1,300 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in intensive care and 12,000 new cases were identified within 24 hours, a record 37,041 deaths since the onset of the health crisis.
Five patients died in a fire at a Bucharest hospital in January, two months after a fire broke out at an institution in Pietra Neimt (northeast) that killed 15 patients in dilapidated hospital infrastructure in Romania.
In April, three COVID-19 patients in an intensive care unit in Bucharest died due to a failure of the oxygen supply system.
In the aftermath of these tragedies, authorities announced inspections at intensive care units across the country, but experts estimate that less than a third of Romania’s 670 hospitals meet fire standards.