North Macedonia: Fourteen killed in fire at Covid hospital in Tetovo

North Macedonia: Fourteen killed in fire at Covid hospital in Tetovo

The fire that broke out last night around 9pm at the modular hospital in Tetovo took at least 10 victims. More than 30 firefighters with seven vehicles were involved in the extinguishing. Authorities announced a detailed investigation to determine the cause of the fire and an emergency government meeting has been scheduled for today.

“A huge tragedy occurred at the Covid center in Tetovo in which ten(14) people died due to explosion and fire and this number may increase. The fire and medical services reacted immediately, the fire was extinguished and a health services operation is underway to save every life in danger. The government extends its heartfelt condolences to the families and relatives of the deceased and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured,” the government said late last night.

The prosecutor’s office announced yesterday that three prosecutors from Tetovo and two prosecutors from Skopje are working in the field.

“The team of five prosecutors, together with teams of the relevant agencies, are undertaking all actions to determine the causes of the fire,” the North Macedonia Prosecutor’s Office informed.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who together with Health Minister Venko Filipce headed to Tetovo immediately after the accident, announced a quick and detailed investigation.

“A huge tragedy occurred at the COVID-19 centre in Tetovo. An explosion caused a fire. The fire was extinguished, but many lives were also extinguished. The fight for life continues and all services reacted with self-sacrifice to save people. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and relatives of the deceased and wish a speedy recovery to the injured. The cause of the fire will be determined, for which the judicial authorities are already on the scene. This is a truly tragic event and I can assure you that the entire state leadership is committed to quickly resolving this situation,” Zaev wrote on Facebook.

The first official information from the Health Ministry is that there are ten dead, but Health Minister Venko Filipce wrote in a Twitter post that the number could rise, as it happens with 14 deaths till now.

“An accident happened in Tetovo that killed several human lives. So far it has been confirmed that ten people died in the fire, but the number may increase. This is a very sad day, I express my deepest condolences to the families,” Filipce wrote.

President Stevo Pendarovski and opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski also expressed their condolences to the families of the dead.

“Condolences to the families and relatives of those killed in the terrible tragedy at the Covid Centre in Tetovo. I wish the injured a speedy recovery,” President Pendarovski wrote on Facebook.

VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski called for urgent and rapid mobilisation of institutions. He wrote on his Facebook profile that the VMRO-DPMNE is making itself available to help overcome the situation.

Shortly after the fire was detected, a Crisis Staff was created, headed by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, which also includes Artan Grubi, Ljupko Nikolovski, Venko Felipce, Oliver Spasovski, Fatmir Beshimi, Kresnik Bekteshi and Teuta Arifi.

The mayor of Tetovo, Arifi last night in a statement to the media said that official information on the number of victims and the entire course of the investigation will be awaited. Until then, he said, no statements would be made.

“Unfortunately, this is a serious, major tragedy. Information will be expected once prosecutors and everyone else has done their job,” Arifi said.

The fire was put out by more than 30 firefighters in nearly half an hour. According to the deputy commander of the Tetovo fire service, Sasho Trajchevski, the flames were huge.

“At 9:02 pm, it was reported that the modular hospital in the Medical Center – Tetovo had caught fire. Crews arrived on the scene in about three or four minutes with about seven vehicles and over 30 firefighters involved from both sides. When crews arrived, everything was on fire. It’s interior, not exterior. Everything we used at 9:30 this evening located the fire. At 9:45 p.m. it was completely cleared. “While the fire was going out, the flames were huge, the modular hospital was all plastic, the victims were being transported,” Trajchevski said last night.

The modular hospital in Tetovo burned to the ground while it had a capacity of 35 beds./ibna

Photo: B. Grdanoski