SOFIA, Nov. 14 (Reuters) – Three men died when a fire broke out early Sunday in a COVID-19 ward of a hospital in the southern Bulgarian city of Sliven, officials said.
The fire, which was quickly extinguished, broke out around 0040 GMT and struck a room. Six patients in adjoining rooms were moved to other departments of the hospital, the head of the regional fire safety department Vladimir Demirev said.
Two of the men were found dead by firefighters. The other patient suffered severe burns and was transported to another hospital where he later died.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but a cigarette lit by a patient was the most likely cause of the fire, the health ministry said in a statement.
More than 8,000 COVID-19 patients, including 700 in intensive care units, are being treated in Bulgarian hospitals as the Balkan country votes in its third parliamentary election this year.
Bulgaria has the lowest vaccination rate in the European Union and one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the bloc, with a record number of daily infections in October, causing hospitals to stretch.
Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.