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Oxygen leak at Famagusta general hospital under control

Fire department officials at the scene

An oxygen leak at Famagusta General Hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning was quickly brought under control allowing patients to return to their rooms and doctors to resume their work, the fire department said.

“At around 5:40am today, we received information of  cryogenic oxygen leak at Famagusta General Hospital, and it was found to have originated from the central supply store,” said fire department spokesman Andreas Kettis, adding that two fire trucks and a special chemical team were sent to the scene from the Famagusta fire station.

“The incident was swiftly managed, as, based on the chemical properties of cryogenic oxygen, the element has a very low boiling point and the chances of combustion are limited. The leakage has been efficiently reduced and the fire service is in contact with the supplier company to make sure everything is under control.”

Famagusta general hospital assistant director of operations Leonidas Leonidou said that firefighters had responded promptly when the alarm was sounded and the affected area evacuated.

“I can safely confirm the leakage is now under control. We are working with the supplier to repair the damage to the tank and firefighters will remain on the scene until they deem it safe to leave. We know how much oxygen the tank contains when it is full, but at this time we cannot know how much there is left inside and how much of it was released into the atmosphere,” Lenoidou said.

“It appears that the causes of the oxygen leak were due to a mechanical breakdown, in some of the valves of the plant.”

Dr Amalia Hadjiyianni, assistant director of cardiology and pathology, said staff and patients evacuated the building immediately.

“The incident did not cause panic and there was no immediate danger to the patients. As soon as the firefighters gave their go-ahead, doctors, nurses and patients returned to their wards,” she said.

She added that surgeries scheduled for Wednesday would be postponed and the hospital would not admit any more patients.

“Patients in need of urgent care or surgery will either be transferred to Larnaca or Nicosia general hospitals,” she said.

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