Three dead and dozens evacuated as horror fire destroys Italian hospital

Three people died after a fire broke out at an Italian hospital. Emergency services rushed to San Giovanni Evangelista Hospital in Tivoli, on the outskirts of Rome, to quash the blaze and help evacuate the building.

The flames, which firefighters took several hours to fully extinguish, are believed to have started in the basement and to have first involved a waste storage area before spreading quickly until reaching the A&E.

Pictures taken after the blaze was extinguished show several floors blackened by the smoke and flames.

Two of the victims had been admitted to the general medicine ward, while the third was in the A&E when the fire surprised them, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Emergency workers found a fourth body at the hospital, but the victim appears to have died shortly before the fire started at around 11pm December 8.

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The evacuation of the hospital was deemed necessary after thick smoke engulfed the building. A total of 174 patients and 18 staff members were brought to safety.

Three newborns were among the people evacuated from the hospital, according to Tivoli Mayor Giuseppe Proietti. A nearby gym was set up as an emergency hospital camp to assist patients in non-critical conditions as they waited to be transferred to other facilities, he added.

Officials have launched an investigation against unknown persons for multiple manslaughter and negligent fire as they are trying to determine how the incident developed and who is responsible for it.ย 

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Francesco Menditto, chief prosecutor in Tivoli, said: “We have gathered numerous images from the videosurveillance system, from which we got a clear picture about what happened and due to which, at the time, we can’t rule out intentional wrongdoing.”

Paolo Gabrielli, one of the people evacuated, recalled the moment of sheer terror in which staff and patients realised a fire was threatening their lives.

He told the Italian news agency: “I was in the A&E. I walked out when I smelled burnt rubber. The power went out, so we escaped thanks to the emergency lights, although we could barely see. There were true moments of panic.ย 

“Alongside stretchers, we were rushing as best as we could, and some of the patients were carried outside in people’s arms.”

Francesco Rocca, president of the Lazio region of which both Rome and Tivoli are part of, visited the site after the blaze.

Noting the devastation brought by the fire to the A&E, Mr Rocca said it will “take weeks” to build it back.ย 

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