A woman has set herself on fire outside Bulgaria's presidential headquarters in Sofia, in an apparent repeat of a series of self-immolations last year driven by poverty in the crisis-hit Balkan country, the interior ministry has said.

Live television footage showed firefighters carrying a burned woman on a stretcher and loading her into an ambulance.

The victim, a 38-year-old woman according to the ministry, was badly burned but alive, the hospital said.

"I was standing here when all of a sudden she lit up like a torch, her legs were kicking," a shocked elderly man told Kanal 3 television.

The woman's identity and the motives behind her desperate act were unclear.

The incident was a reminder of a series of self-immolations last year when at least six people died after setting themselves on fire in public between February and May.

Source: AP