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Fire at COVID-19 field hospital in North Macedonia kills 14

Fire at COVID-19 field hospital in North Macedonia kills 14
An investigator is seen Thursday at the site of a fire at a COVID-19 field hospital in Tetovo, North Macedonia. Officials said at least 14 people died in the fire. Photo by Georgi Licovski/EPA-EFE

Sept. 9 (UPI) -- A large fire that swept through a COVID-19 field hospital in North Macedonia, which had been set up to handle an overflow of cases, has killed more than a dozen people, authorities said Thursday.

The blaze started Wednesday at the temporary setup in Tetovo, which is located in the northwest part of the country about 25 miles west of the nation's capital, Skopje.

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North Macedonia health minister Venko Filipce said about two dozen patients were being treated at the hospital when the flames started. At least 14 died, but no healthcare workers were injured.

Authorities were not immediately sure what caused the fire, which was extinguished after about 45 minutes.

North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the fire was caused partly by small explosions, possibly from oxygen tanks.

Officials announced three days of national mourning after the deadly fire and leaders were scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Thursday.

Located in southeastern Europe, North Macedonia was known as Macedonia until 2019 when it changed its name following a longtime dispute with a region in northern Greece with the same name.

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