At least 10 people have been killed after an oxygen machine caused a fire in a private hospital in Turkey’s southeastern Gaziantep province, the health minister said.
The incident took place in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in the Sanko University Hospital where a fire was caused by a high-flow oxygen therapy machine used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, according to a statement by the hospital.
The victims were aged between 56 and 85.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that 10 people were killed in the fire, raising the earlier estimate of eight dead by the hospital and the Gaziantep governor’s office. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.
Over 50 people, including doctors, medical personnel and security guards, were affected by the fire while trying to transfer patients from the scene during the incident, and 10 staffers are in oxygen therapy, the hospital said in a statement.
After the explosion, 11 other patients receiving COVID-19 treatment in the unit were referred to various hospitals, it added.
Police and fire service teams were dispatched to the scene.
An investigation has been launched regarding the incident.
Intensive care units across Turkey currently have a 74 percent bed occupancy rate due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to government figures, although medical associations have claimed that hospitals are overrun.
Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, and hoped for the ‘urgent recovery’ of those who were wounded.
Gaziantep’te özel bir hastanede çıkan yangında hayatını kaybeden vatandaşlarımıza Allah’tan rahmet, kederli ailelerine başsağlığı, yaralılarımıza acil şifalar diliyorum.
— Fuat Oktay (@fuatoktay) December 19, 2020
On Friday evening, the health ministry reported 26,410 new cases over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total since March to 1.98 million.