Romanian COVID-19 hospital fire kills seven

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Oct. 1 (UPI) — Seven people were killed after a fire broke out in a COVID-19 hospital in Constanta, Romania on Friday.

A total of 113 patients were in the hospital at the time, 10 of whom were in the intensive care unit, the Health Ministry said. Fifty people have been transferred to nearby hospitals.

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Prosecutor Viorel Teliceanu said that some of those killed were able to get out of their wards and tried to reach the elevator. Teliceano also said that some victims died from smoke inhalation.

The Constanta Hospital for Infectious Diseases has lacked a proper fire security permit since at least 2017, officials said. According to the head of Department for Emergency Situations, Raed Arafat, the hospital didn’t file the needed documents in more than four years.

Prime Minister Florin Citu said he fired the hospital manager Stela Halichidis and the chief of the National Agency for the Management of Quality in Healthcare.

“All deficiencies were fixed, everything was in compliance with the law, but a misfortune happened,” Halichidis told Romania Journal.

Inspections in February revealed that fire detection, signaling and warning installations weren’t working properly and that electrical wiring isn’t checked.

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An investigation is underway to find the cause of the fire.

Several COVID-19 hospitals have erupted into flames in the past year. At least 82 people were killed in an Iraqi hospital in April and 10 others died in a Turkish hospital in December. More recently, a fire at a field hospital in North Macedonia killed 14 people.

All three reported fires were caused by exploding oxygen tanks.