A hospital on the outskirts of Rome was engulfed in flames, leading to the tragic loss of three lives. The incident, which happened late on Friday night during a national holiday in Italy, caused the urgent evacuation of nearly 200 patients due to heavy smoke.
The fire started in the emergency room of St. John the Evangelist hospital in Tivoli and quickly spread, filling the building with smoke. “but the smoke went everywhere,” reported chief prosecutor Francesco Menditto.
Firefighters and police worked tirelessly throughout the night, using ladders to reach those on upper floors. Of the 193 patients, those in critical condition were rushed to other hospitals, while others were temporarily sheltered in a local gym before being moved elsewhere.
Francesco Rocca, the governor of Lazio, confirmed the fatalities at the scene. He announced an investigation into the fire’s cause and noted the urgent need for modern fire safety measures in Italy’s older hospitals.
Initially, the fire department reported four deaths. However, in a news conference, Menditto clarified that three were due to the fire, with a fourth unrelated.
Prosecutors don’t suspect arson, but manslaughter is a possibility in the ongoing investigation, though no one is yet accused.
Videos show fire crews using ladders to reach patients in the smoke-engulfed hospital. Menditto and Rocca, the governor, commended the exceptional overnight rescue efforts, highlighting the evacuation of immobile patients to other hospitals.
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni expressed sympathy for the victims’ families.
Rome’s chief firefighter, Cmdr. Adriano De Acutis, mentioned the current focus on securing vital medications, including cancer treatments, as the hospital remains closed for now.