Bhubaneswar hospital fire toll rises to 20
October 18 2016 11:59 PM
Rescue workers trying help victims of the massive fire at the SUM Hospital in Bhubaneswar.


Four staff at a hospital in Odisha have been suspended after a deadly blaze in the intensive care unit, authorities said yesterday, as the toll from the disaster rose to 20.
Fire broke out on Monday night in the dialysis ward of the SUM Hospital before quickly spreading to other floors, killing 19 seriously ill patients who were unable to flee the blaze.
Another patient died in hospital yesterday after being rescued from the burning building, said police inspector Sharat Kumar Sahu.
“The toll is now 20 as one more person has succumbed to his injuries,” he said.
“We can also confirm that four mid-level hospital staff have been suspended prima facie (for) negligence.”
About 40 critically ill patients were in the ICU of the hospital in state capital Bhubaneswar when the fire broke out.
In all more than 100 were rescued by firefighters who smashed windows to get them out of the burning building.
“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,” said Odisha’s health secretary Arti Ahuja.
“There are about 106 people who are (now) in different private and government hospitals,” she told the NDTV news channel.
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.
Police inspector Sahu said more than 100 firefighters had battled the blaze for around five hours until it was brought under control. Most of the critical patients were on ventilators and died in the blaze, he said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said yesterday that he had visited the evacuated patients in hospital and ordered an inquiry into what he called a “tragic incident.”
A government relief fund would bear the cost of their treatment, he said on Twitter.
The hospital authorities meanwhile denied that there were lapses on the management’s part.
“We have put four officials under suspension. However, that does not mean they are guilty. Only a thorough inquiry would reveal the actual cause of the incident,” said Amit Banerjee, vice chancellor of the SUM Hospital and Medical College.
Banerjee also announced Rs500,000lakh compensation to the families of each deceased.
Meanwhile, services have resumed at the hospital except in the ICU, dialysis and emergency wards.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi expressed grief and prayed for the injured.
“My heart and prayers are with bereaved families and injured in the massive hospital fire in Bhubaneshwar hospital,” Mukherjee said in a tweet.
Gandhi termed the tragedy as “most unfortunate”, and in a statement said: “My thoughts and prayers remain with families of those bereaved.
Such disasters are relatively common in India, partly because of poor safety standards.
In 2011 more than 90 patients were killed in Kolkata when a fire raged through a private hospital, trapping many people inside the building.
Most died from inhaling toxic gases.

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