Seven people have died after a fire broke out in a Romanian intensive care unit treating Covid-19 patients, officials said.
The tragic incident in the city of Constanța, on the shores of the Black Sea, is the third deadly hospital fire in the country in less than a year.
Patients were seen jumping out of windows from the hospital’s lower levels and firefighters carried people out.
The country’s emergency response unit initially said nine people had died, but Transport Minister Lucian Bode later said there had been a miscommunication between firefighters and hospital staff.
Firefighters extinguished the fire at the hospital in the eastern city just before 10am local time this morning, having brought in additional teams from nearby counties.
Enraged relatives of the patients gathered outside the hospital in protest.
The causes of the incident are not yet known and prosecutors have launched an investigation.
In February, a fire killed four patients at a Covid-19 hospital in the capital, Bucharest.
Last November, 10 people died in an intensive care unit at the Piatra Neamt county hospital.
President Klaus Iohannis said in a statement: “I am appalled at the tragedy.
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“It is a new terrible drama which confirms the lacking infrastructure of Romania’s healthcare system, placed under unimaginable pressure by the fourth wave of the pandemic.”
There were more than 12,500 Covid-19 patients, including 373 children, being treated in Romanian hospitals on Friday, including 1,391 in intensive care units.
The number of new Covid-19 infections in Romania reached 10,887 on Friday, and intensive care units across the country were running out of space.
Romania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the 27-nation European Union.
Even before the Covid pandemic, Romania’s health care system had been under pressure, dogged by corruption, inefficiencies and politicised management.
The country has one of the EU’s least developed healthcare infrastructures.
The state has built one hospital in the last three decades, spends the least on healthcare in the EU and tens of thousands of doctors and nurses have emigrated.