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10 dead after fire breaks out in Romanian COVID-19 intensive care unit

BUCHAREST, Romania — A fire at a hospital treating COVID-19 patients in northeastern Romania killed 10 people Saturday and injured 10 others, seven of them critically, officials said.

The blaze spread through the intensive care ward designated for COVID-19 patients at the public hospital in the city of Piatra Neamt, local Emergency Situations Inspectorate spokesperson Irina Popa said.

Popa said that most of the people who died or were injured in the fire were hospital patients.

Health Minister Nelu Tataru told Romanian media the fire was “most likely triggered by a short circuit.”

News outlets reported that the Piatra Neamt Regional Emergency Hospital has long been poorly managed, with eight government-appointed managers overseeing the facility in the last year.

The hospital’s current manager, Lucian Micu, was appointed just three weeks ago after his predecessor resigned over the poor treatment of patients. The resignation followed media reports of patients, including many suspected to have COVID-19, being forced to wait outside in the cold to see a doctor.

Micu said Saturday that a doctor on duty tried to save the patients from the flames and was in critical condition with first- and second-degree burns covering 80 per cent of his body. Another doctor and two nurses also were being treated for burns.

Piatra Neamt is about 353 kilometres (219 miles) north of Romania’s capital, Bucharest.

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Niksic reported from Sarajevo, Bosnia.

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