BUCHAREST, Romania — Romanian prosecutors are investigating 16 ambulance drivers suspected of stealing gasoline from ambulances, possibly leading to the deaths of eight patients.

Prosecutor Marian Sorin Lia said Wednesday that the drivers from the southern town of Corabia are being probed for the thefts from 2013 to 2015. They also allegedly drove slowly to consume less fuel, and are being investigated for embezzlement and making false statements.

He said the drivers' alleged actions may be linked with eight deaths because they slowed down trips to reach hospitals. The drivers have been suspended from work during the investigation, and local authorities are scrambling to keep emergency services running.

Health Minister Sorina Pintea said it was "premature" to say whether the alleged crimes led to deaths.