UPDATED: April 23, 2021 11:05 IST
A fire broke out at Vijay Vallabh Hospital in Virar in Mumbai early on Friday morning. 13 Covid patients lost their lives in the incident, the hospital’s CEO Dr Dilip Jain confirmed.
There were 90 patients in the hospital, 18 of them in the ICU when the fire broke out after a blast in the AC unit, an official said. The dead include five women and eight men.
Visuals showed the smoke-filled ICU in a disarray after the blaze, with the ceiling falling off in some places, beds and other furniture was strewn around and kin of the deceased wailing outside the hospital.
The fire started around 3.15 am on the second floor of the hospital due to a short-circuit in the air conditioner in the intensive care unit (ICU). It was extinguished by 5.30 in the morning. According to news agency PTI, District Disaster Control Cell chief Vivekanand Kadam said that the Virar hospital fire was preceded by an explosion in the AC unit of the intensive care unit.
The fire department has confirmed that there were 18 Covid patients in the ICU. The five survivors have been shifted elsewhere. Relatives of the deceased reached the hospital soon after hearing of the incident and demanded that stringent action be taken against those responsible for the tragedy.
Vijay Vallabh Hospital is a private entity functioning as a Covid hospital.
CONDOLENCES POUR IN
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan took to Twitter to offer their condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.
“The fire at a Covid-19 hospital in Virar is tragic. Condolences to those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover soon,” PM Modi said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi urged party workers to assist all those in need. “Tragic news has been received from Vijay Vallabh Covid centre in Virar about the death of patients due to a fire. My deepest condolences to the families of the victims. I appeal to the State government and Congress workers to provide all necessary assistance,” he wrote on Telegram.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Saddened by the loss of lives due to tragic fire at a Hospital in Palghar, Maharashtra. My condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for the speedy recovery of the injured.”
MAHARASHTRA GOVT ORDERS PROBE
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered an inquiry into the incident. Thackeray spoke to concerned officials and directed them to focus on extinguishing the fire completely and ensuring treatment of other patients continues uninterrupted.
He has also directed the administration to immediately inquire whether the hospital was adequately equipped in terms of fire safety.
Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said authorities should check if there was a fire safety audit of the hospital, which is over 50 km from Mumbai.
The tragedy comes two days after 22 Covid-19 patients who were either on ventilator or oxygen support, suffocated to death when their oxygen supply stopped suddenly due to a malfunction in the main storage at a civic hospital in Nashik.