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North Macedonia Government to Meet Over Deadly Hospital Fire

September 9, 2021

SKOPJE, North Macedonia  — North Macedonia's government will hold an emergency meeting Thursday over a fire overnight that ripped through a field hospital set up to treat COVID-19 patients, leaving at least 14 people dead.

The blaze broke out late Wednesday in the western city of Tetovo, where the hospital had been set up following a recent spike in infections in the region that left local hospitals full.

The main prosecutor's office in the capital, Skopje, said 14 people had been killed in the blaze. There were no medical personnel among them. The prosecutor's office ordered forensic experts to identify the remains. A number of people were injured, though the exact figure wasn't immediately available.

Five prosecutors, from Tetovo and Skopje, are working on the investigation into the causes of the fire. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in a Facebok post that the blaze followed an explosion at the site. It was unclear what caused the blast, but there was speculation that it was linked to oxygen supplies.

Health Ministry officials said the bodies of those who died were transferred to hospitals in the capital Skopje, about 45 kilometers (30 miles) to the east.

With less than 30% of the country’s roughly 2 million population fully vaccinated, North Macedonia has seen a significant spike in coronavirus infections and deaths since late August.

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