Fire forces hospital evacuation in Brazil; 2 patients dead

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Fire erupted in one of Rio de Janeiro's main hospitals on Tuesday, forcing rescue workers to evacuate at least 200 people, some of whom were wheeled out in their beds. Two women who had been hospitalized in serious condition with COVID-19 died during the evacuation, the hospital said.

The fire began in the basement of one of several buildings that make up the Bonsucesso Federal Hospital, according to fire department spokesman Lauro Boto, and it sent dense black smoke pouring into the sky.

Patients fled the hospital in wheelchairs and on crutches, while hospital workers rolled some out to safety in their beds. The hospital said the patients who died were 42 years old and 82 years old.

Dozens of anxious relatives of patients at the hospital gathered in the area in hopes of finding out what had happened to their family members.

Firefighters eventually doused the flames. An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.

Last year, a public defender's report issued a report citing a lack of smoke detectors and other fire prevention measures at the hospital, saying patients and medical staff were at risk.