A fire broke out at a hospital in north Nicosia, with reports pointing to at least two deaths after officials ordered the evacuation of an entire unit with heart patients.
According to local media, a fire broke out Friday morning around 7am at a Turkish Cypriot public hospital.
The blaze reportedly started in the cardiovascular department of “Dr. Burhan Nalbantoglu State Hospital” in north Nicosia, where over 200 patients were evacuated and transferred to other hospitals and clinics.
Administration officials initially were quoted in the media as saying there were no casualties as a result of the fire.
But local reports began to emerge later saying one patient died in hospital following the incident. Other media said at least two patients had died, aged 74 and 62.
It was not clear whether the patients died of medical reasons or their death was related in any way to the fire and subsequent evacuation.
There was also no official word on what caused the fire, while some reports said it could have been caused by the explosion of a medical gas cylinder.
Greek Cypriot media in the south reported that administration officials in the Republic of Cyprus have offered assistance through the bicommunal health committee.
President Nicos Anastasiades, Health Minister offer their help
The President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades expressed his condolences to the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, and offered help.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou contacted the bicommunal health committee, also expressing his Ministry’s readiness to help.
“I express my deep sorrow over the death of two people in a tragic blast at a hospital in occupied Nicosia. I spoke on the phone with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Akinci and expressed my condolences and our readiness to provide any assistance, if it is requested” President Anastasiades stated on Twitter.
Speaking to CNA, the Greek Cypriot Head of the bicommunal health committee, Leonidas Phylactou, said that he spoke with the Health Minister earlier on Friday, who asked him to convey to the Turkish Cypriot side his Ministry’s willingness to help in addressing this emergency.
Phylactou said he then contacted Cenk Soydan, the Turkish Cypriot Head of the committee, and passed on the Minister’s message.
He also said that Soydan briefed him on the situation and thanked him for the offer.
Replying to a question, Phylactou said that for the moment, there was no request from the Turkish Cypriot side concerning the transfer of patients to the Republic of Cyprus.