The Turkish Health Minister said that nine people died after an oxygen cylinder exploded in the intensive care unit treating Covid-19 patients in Turkey.
The state-run Anadolu News Agency said the fire broke out in the private Sanko University Hospital in Gaziantep, 530 miles (850 km) southeast of Istanbul. She cited the hospital’s statement, which identified victims between 56 and 85 years old. And soon the fire was brought under control.
The statement said that 14 patients in intensive care have been transferred to other hospitals. The investigation is underway.
Health Minister Fakhruddin Koca wrote on Twitter that nine people were killed in the fire, raising the previous estimate of eight killed by the hospital and the governor’s office of Gaziantep. There was no explanation for this contradiction.
The governor’s office said 19 patients were in the unit when a high-pressure oxygen device detonated at 4.45 am (1.45 GMT). She added that other than the dead, no one was injured in the fire.
According to government figures, intensive care units across Turkey currently have a bed occupancy rate of 74% as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, although medical associations say the number is higher and their hospitals are full of Covid-19 patients.
The Turkish Ministry of Health reported 26,410 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, bringing the total number of infections in the country since March to 1.98 million. The figure includes asymptomatic cases, which Ankara had not reported in the four months until late November, prompting criticism that the government was trying to hide the extent of the outbreak in the country.
Turkey also recorded a daily record high of 246 deaths linked to Covid-19 on Friday, taking the total number to 17,610.