Bystanders attempt to put out flames engulfing an unidentified woman after she set herself on fire in front of the Bulgarian presidency building in Sofia November 3, 2014. The woman is now in critical condition in the hospital, local media reported. The reasons for her self-immolation is yet unknown. REUTERS/Romeo Cholakov

SOFIA: A woman set herself on fire outside Bulgaria’s presidential headquarters in Sofia on Monday, in a repeat of a series of self-immolations driven by poverty in the crisis-hit Balkan country last year, the interior ministry said.

Live television footage showed firefighters carrying a burned woman on a stretcher and loading her into an ambulance.

The victim, a 38-year-old woman according to the ministry, was badly burned but alive, the hospital said.

“I was standing here when all of a sudden she lit up like a torch, her legs were kicking,” a shocked elderly man told Kanal 3 television.

The woman’s identity and the motives behind her desperate act were unclear.

It was a reminder of a series of similar incidents in crisis-hit Bulgaria last year where at least six people died after setting themselves on fire in public between February and May.

Most of the self-immolations were driven by poverty and despair. -AFP