Tetovo in Three-day Mourning of Victims of Tragic Explosion in COVID Hospital

The explosion, which killed at least 14 people and injured many more in a hospital fire in North Macedonia on Wednesday night, is not deliberate, said the preliminary results of the investigation of an investigative team. Five prosecutors, from Tetovo and Skopje, are working on the investigation into the causes of the fire.

The blaze which occurred in a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients in the western city of Tetovo, might have been caused by oxygen cylinders or an inadequate link in the power system of the hospital, Alsat TV quoted official sources.

The main prosecutor's office in the capital, Skopje, said no medical personnel was among the victims. About a dozen people, including medical staff and patients, were injured.

North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev described the incident as a "huge tragedy" in a statement posted on Facebook.

He added there had been an explosion before the fire but said the cause was still being investigated. "This is a truly tragic event and I can assure you that the entire state leadership is committed to rapidly resolving this situation. I express my deepest condolences to the families and relatives of the deceased and wish a speedy recovery to the injured."

Tetovo Mayor Teuta Arifi declared three days of mourning for the victims.

The prosecutor's office ordered forensic experts to identify the remains, with the process expected to take longer than usual due to special protocols required because the victims were COVID-19 patients.

The country has been struggling with a wave of COVID-19 in recent weeks. Less than 30 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The health ministry said the city of Tetovo suffered the highest number of hospitalizations and deaths during the latest virus wave.

The highest authorities from Albania have poured messages of condolences expressing deep pain for the fatalities and dismay at the dimensions of such a tragic event. / argumentum.al