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Matei Bals' Fire : Intervention was fast, efficient; everything was quickly under control

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Prime Minister Florin Citu on Friday said that the intervention at the fire at the "Matei Bals" Hospital was "fast, efficient", mentioning that things were immediately kept under control.

"A few minutes after 112 was called this morning, I was contacted by Secretary of State Raed Arafat, who informed me that there was a fire at the "Matei Bals" Institute. I have immediately triggered a red plan and I stayed in touch with the institutions, the Ministry of Interior, the Bucharest Prefecture, the Ministry of Health, ever since," the Prime Minister said in a press release at the Victoria Palace.

He said that from the first moment he asked the Minister of Interior to use all the resources to stabilize the situation as soon as possible and things were kept under control.

"At the same time, places were found at other hospitals in Bucharest where patients could be moved and here I want to thank the managers of these hospitals who got directly involved, acted immediately and we managed to make this transfer very quickly, and around 6.37 am all the patients were already transferred to other hospitals. I also want to thank the employees of the "Matei Bals" hospital who also acted immediately to transfer the patients to other institutions. I immediately told the Minister of Interior to use all the resources necessary to stabilize the situation as fast as possible. I believe, and I say that again, that the intervention was very fast, efficient, and if it weren't so, we would have had a different situation. However, things were immediately kept under control," added Citu.

He said that a criminal investigation is already underway and a complex team was created to investigate into what happened, while he will be waiting for the final conclusions.

"Besides the criminal aspects, there is also a criminal investigation going on. Besides this aspect, this investigation, there is also a complex team that we've created, which will present a report. We already have a preliminary report, but I am waiting for the final conclusion to know what steps will need to take next," said Citu.

 

Prosecutor Alexandru Anghel with the Bucharest Tribunal said on Friday evening that it is possible there were two explosions of oxygen cylinders, after a fire broke out at the Matei Bals hospital.

Anghel and head of the Bucharest Police Homicide Service Marian Mihoci gave first statements on Friday regarding the conduct of the investigation in this case.

"It looks like there may have been two explosions of oxygen cylinders after the fire. It looks like there was a fire and then there were two explosions of oxygen cylinders. That is what it looks like. We're going to find out," said the prosecutor.

 

A team of seven specialists with the Petrosani-based National Research and Development Institute for Mining Safety and Explosive Protection (INSEMEX) travelled to Bucharest on Friday to conduct an investigation into a fire that broke out at the Matei Bals hospital.

The specialists, led by INSEMEX Director General George Artur Gaman, will comb the site of the fire for samples and ask for documents to prepare a technical report on the fire.

"We are seven specialists from the institute, and the purpose of our trip is to carry out an investigation at the scene. (...) We collect samples and request documents. Carrying out the investigation is a long process," Gaman said.


According to him, after the investigation is over, INSEMEX Petrosani specialists will work on a technical report, which conclusions are estimated to take several months to draw.

 

Two nurses and two nursing assistants of the Matei Bals hospital who were on duty at the ward where a fire broke out that killed five patients were questioned on Friday at the Bucharest Police headquarters.

According to lawyer for the Matei Bals hospital Constantin Durgeru, the two assistants tried to put out the fire and managed to stop the oxygen supply, avoiding an explosion.

"They told exactly what happened, in other words they told the truth. First called to testify were the people who were directly involved in the events, those who were on the night shift, namely nurses and assistants: two nurses and two assistants. (...) They testified as witnesses. One thing is certain, it is obvious that one cannot speak of the fault of the medical staff; it is very clear that the reaction was prompt. It was a completely unfortunate incident, absolutely unfortunate from all points of view, and the nurses, (...) because they were the first to come into contact with the fire, had a prompt reaction, and one of them also had the presence of mind to cut off the oxygen supply. Had the oxygen supply not been stopped, there would have had an explosion," the lawyer said.

He added that the assistants did exactly the right thing: "Their first reaction was prompt, in that one of the two assistants jumped with a blanket to put out the fire, which had engulfed an unfortunate patient, and the other turned off the oxygen installation. It was obvious that she had a prompt reaction, after which both of them, one on the left and the other on the right, ran after the fire extinguishers, knowing that there were fire extinguishers at the ends of the corridor. They did exactly what they had to do. Obviously, they were well trained, reason why in such a stressful situation, although it would have been normal to panic, because we are still talking about some assistants and any normal person would have been lost in such a situation, with all the stress, but they reacted as much appropriately as possible. "

The fire broke out on Friday, around 05:00hrs, EET, at a ward where COVID-19 patients had been hospitalised. Three patients got charred to death, while a fourth victim died after failed resuscitation. Later, another patient was found dead in a bathroom.

Prosecutors and the police are investigating the case as culpable homicide.

 

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