Three days of national mourning were announced today in Northern Macedonia after 14 patients of the COVID hospital in Tetovo died the night before in a fire and explosion at around 21:02 (local time).
The causes of the fire are still unknown, while five prosecutors are engaged in conducting expertise to uncover the causes of the event. The fire is thought to have been caused by the explosion of gas or oxygen cylinders.
Tetovo's deputy fire chief Saso Trajcevski said the fire spread rapidly inside the building after oxygen cylinders exploded. Footage showed flames bursting through the windows in the portable buildings that made up the modular hospital.
Over 30 firefighters with 7 engines fought with flames and made it possible to extinguish them in half an hour.
"This is a truly tragic event," said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in a statement posted to Facebook, adding: "The cause of the fire will be determined."
One infectious diseases specialist, Zaklina Sopova, complained that makeshift hospital facilities had been set up without proper safety standards.
North Macedonia has reported more than 180,000 cases of Covid-19 and 6,153 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data.