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Two dead after Romania's fourth fatal hospital fire in a year

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Firefighters operate on the grounds of the hospital in Ploiesti.
Firefighters operate on the grounds of the hospital in Ploiesti.   -   Copyright  Romanian Emergency Situations Inspectorate, IGSU via AP

Two people have died after another hospital fire in Romania.

The blaze broke out in the infectious disease wing of a hospital in the city of Ploiești, where 21 patients were receiving care, authorities said.

The cause of the fire, which was quickly extinguished, is not yet known, but an investigation was underway.

It is Romania's fourth deadly hospital blaze in a year. 

Romanian officials said the two victims were male patients in the 70s, while a nurse also suffered serious burns to 20% of their body and was transferred to a hospital in Bucharest.

"There are 2 victims and 16 people who are evacuated and transferred to Ploiești County Hospital," the health ministry said in a statement.

According to the hospital's director, the facility was renovated last year and the electrical installations and oxygen supply system were recently checked.

The Ploiești hospital fire is the latest in a string of deadly fires that have afflicted Romania’s hospitals in recent months.

Ten people were killed in November 2020 when a fire engulfed an intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients in the northern Romanian town of Piatra Neamt.

Then, in January, a blaze in January engulfed a ward at Bucharest’s Matei Bals hospital, killing five people.

On October 1, a blaze tore through a COVID-19 hospital in the Romanian port city of Constanta, killing at least seven people.

After the Constanta fire, President Klaus Iohannis said Romania had "failed in its fundamental mission to protect its citizens".

Interim Prime Minister Florin Cîțu sent his condolences to the victims' families on Thursday morning and said "such tragedies must not be repeated".

"I always asked that the hospitals be prepared for a fourth wave," Cîțu stated during a news conference.

"We are facing an overload of the medical system due to wave four, and everyone involved must ensure that all measures are taken for the safety of patients."

In recent weeks, Romania’s health care system has faced a record number of virus infections and deaths.

More than 1,800 COVID-19 patients in Romania are currently receiving intensive care, and hundreds of people with the disease have died every day for the last month.

Romania is the European Union’s second-least vaccinated nation, with just 40% of adults fully inoculated against the coronavirus.