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At least 10 dead after COVID-19 hospital catches fire in North Macedonia

Christian Fernsby |
Authorities said at least 10 people have been confirmed dead following a massive fire at a hospital in North Macedonia.

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The hospital had been used primarily to treat COVID-19 patients.

According to initial reports, the fire broke out late Wednesday. It reportedly took firefighters close to an hour to extinguish the flame. Some nearby residents and witnesses were able to capture footage of the blaze, which they then posted on social media.

Footage of the blaze, which occurred in the city of Tetovo, showed large plumes of thick black smoke coming from the hospital and into the air near the city's main road.

Health Minister Venko Filipce said he expects there to be more casualties as search and rescue efforts are still underway. He said that patients and survivors of the fire have been urgently transported to another hospital in the capital city of Skopje. Felipce described the incident as a "very sad day" for everyone in North Macedonia.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev declined to speculate on the cause of the fire but he said initial reports had indicated that it may have been caused by an explosion. Local reports said the fire may have been triggered by the explosion of oxygen cylinders being used to treat patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms. Zaev said that an investigation into the cause of the fire is now underway.

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