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Fourth baby dies after Romania hospital fire

From Cosmin Stan, For CNN
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Fourth baby dies after hospital fire
  • A fourth baby dies from Monday's fire at a Bucharest hospital
  • Another seven are being treated for injuries
  • Preliminary conclusions show the fire started in a cable behind a wooden closet
  • Pictures show a blackened hospital room and a burned incubator
  • Romania

Bucharest, Romania (CNN) -- A fourth newborn baby has died after a fire in the intensive care unit of a maternity hospital in Romania, a hospital official said Tuesday.

The baby died at the Grigore Alexandrescu Hospital, where another seven were being treated, said Dr. Radu Balanescu, the hospital's medical director. One of those babies was in poor condition Tuesday and the other six were stable, he said.

Autopsy results on three babies whose deaths were announced earlier show that one died from smoke inhalation and the other two died from lack of oxygen, said Marcus Iacob, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation.

All the babies have been identified, Balanescu said, but officials still planned to run DNA tests to confirm their identities.

The fire at Giulesti Maternity Hospital in the capital, Bucharest, began Monday after an electrical cable in the air conditioning system caught fire behind a wooden closet in the intensive care unit, according to prosecutors' preliminary conclusions. The cable had not been installed and isolated properly, they said.

Pictures of the burned intensive care unit, published Tuesday in the Romanian newspaper Adevarul, showed a burned incubator, a blackened room, and equipment that had melted and was singed.

Prosecutors said the fire burned slowly for about an hour before any medical staff entered the room. The intensive care room had been unstaffed at the time, they said.

As a result, prosecutors called for the questioning of 15 medical staff, including the nurse who was supposed to be in the room at the time, Iacob said.

Staff also failed to evacuate any babies in the five minutes between the time they placed the emergency call and firefighters got to the burning intensive care unit, fire department spokeswoman Anca Onofrei said.

Everyone in the hospital was eventually evacuated, including five women in labor, another 26 pregnant women, and six who had just given birth, Raed Arafat, state secretary deputy in the Health Care Ministry, said Monday.

The Romanian press was critical Tuesday of the staff's response, saying it showed the weakness of the Romanian health care system.

Dr. Gheorghe Burnei, a renowned surgeon with the Children's Hospital Marie Curie in Bucharest, told Realitatea TV that due to the poor Romanian health care system, this kind of tragedy could happen again at any time.