Twin fires kill 22 in In­dia

> Most were crit­i­cally ill pa­tients trapped in hos­pi­tal

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

NEW DELHI: At least 22 peo­ple have been killed in two fires in In­dia, most of them pa­tients who were trapped in the in­ten­sive care unit of a ma­jor hos­pi­tal, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

More than 40 crit­i­cally ill pa­tients were in the ICU of SUM Hos­pi­tal in Bhubaneswar, cap­i­tal of the east­ern state of Odisha, when fire broke out on Mon­day night, ap­par­ently af­ter an elec­tric short cir­cuit.

Au­thor­i­ties said 19 peo­ple had died in the blaze, mostly from smoke in­hala­tion.

More than 100 pa­tients were res­cued by fire­fight­ers who smashed win­dows to get them out of the burn­ing build­ing.

Odisha’s health sec­re­tary Arti Ahuja said: “Some pa­tients were evac­u­ated by break­ing a win­dow on the first floor and then they were low­ered to the ground floor.

“And some of them were evac­u­ated through the ad­join­ing op­er­a­tion theatre which was empty at that time.”

She told the NDTV news chan­nel: “There are about 106 peo­ple who are (now) in dif­fer­ent pri­vate and gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tals.”

Two more peo­ple died early yes­ter­day when a high-rise lux­ury apart­ment block in the western city of Mum­bai caught fire.

Fire­fight­ers said 11 peo­ple had to be res­cued from the blaze and two died of as­phyx­i­a­tion af­ter they be­came trapped in the stair­well. The cause of the fire was not im­me­di­ately clear.

Such dis­as­ters are rel­a­tively com­mon in In­dia, partly be­cause of poor safety stan­dards.

In 2011, more than 90 pa­tients were killed at a pri­vate hos­pi­tal in the east­ern city of Kolkata when a fire raged through a pri­vate hos­pi­tal, trap­ping many pa­tients in­side the build­ing. Most died from in­hal­ing toxic gases. Ahuja said the hos­pi­tal in Odisha had been sealed off and a de­tailed in­quiry would be car­ried out to es­tab­lish the cause of the dis­as­ter.

Lo­cal tele­vi­sion sta­tions showed im­ages of fire­fight­ers wear­ing masks smash­ing glass panes to en­ter the build­ing.

Sharat Ku­mar Sahu, a po­lice of­fi­cer at the site of the blaze, said that the fire started in the dial­y­sis ward in the four­storey build­ing and quickly spread to the in­ten­sive care unit.

The of­fi­cer said more than 100 fire­fight­ers had bat­tled the blaze for around five hours until it was brought un­der con­trol. – AFP

Res­cue work­ers try to help pa­tients at the SUM Hos­pi­tal build­ing on Mon­day.

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