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One dead, four injured as explosion rocks Covid hospital


Agency Report

One person died Wednesday and another four were hurt in an explosion at a Covid-19 ward in one of Greece’s main hospitals, officials said.

“A strong explosion was heard and everyone jumped out… we’ve never seen anything like this,” a staff member at Papanikolaou hospital in the northern city of Thessaloniki told state agency ANA.

The fire department said two men had suffered major burns in the incident, while Nikos Kapravelos, director of one the hospital’s intensive care units, had earlier told AFP that two other patients suffered smoke inhalation.

Thirty-five people had to be evacuated, the fire department added, noting that the explosion and ensuing fire had caused significant damage to the ward.

Local reports said a patient lit a cigarette in the ward, setting off an explosion through his oxygen supply.

Health Minister Thanos Plevris, who rushed to the scene, said that the consequences would have been more serious had staff not quickly shut off the oxygen elsewhere in the building.

The hospital remained in operation and the causes of the incident were under investigation, he added.

Stavros Tryfon, head of the hospital’s pulmonary department, told reporters the man killed in the blast had been “vaporised”.

Television footage showed at least two windows blown out at the back of the building, with dark smoke billowing out.

A member of staff told AFP: “A doctor who responded saw a man on fire, and a patient trying to help him.”

“The ward was destroyed,” she told AFP.

The fire department said it had despatched 30 firemen and 11 fire engines to the scene.