A fire in a hospital treating coronavirus patients in Russia claimed the lives of five patients and forced the evacuation of 150 people.

The fire broke out on the sixth floor of an intensive care unit at the St. George Hospital in St. Petersburg, killing five coronavirus patients connected to a ventilator, the TASS news agency reported, citing medical personnel.

According to initial findings, the fire may have been caused by a short circuit in the ventilator or its malfunction, state news agencies said.

The Investigative Committee, Russia's top law enforcement body, said a criminal investigation had been opened into the matter.

Photos: St. George Hospital in St. Petersburg fire killed five coronavirus patients

The incident is the second deadly fire in recent days at a hospital treating coronavirus patients in Russia. A fire broke out late Saturday at a Moscow hospital treating, killing one person and forcing the evacuation of patients, Russian state news agencies reported.

Russia reported 11,656 more coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total case number in the country to 221,344.

The country is now ranked third in the world for confirmed cases, behind the US and Spain, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Moscow is the worst hit city in Russia, with 115,909 cases.