The death toll in the Odisha hospital fire increased to 26 on Saturday with the death of a man, who was on ventilator support when the fire broke out and was later shifted to a city-based hospital.
Kartikeswar Das (68), a resident of GGP colony in Bhubaneswar, was shifted to Apollo Hospital after fire broke out in SUM Hospital on October 17. His family members alleged that he could have survived had the SUM hospital authorities evacuated him quickly.
Meanwhile, the post-mortem report 19 people who died on the night of the fire tragedy, has revealed that the cause of death was asphyxiation. “Injuries to respiratory passages are ante-mortem in nature and consistent with inhalation of smoke. The death of the deceased is due to shock and suffocation from active inhalation,” said one of the several post-mortem reports.
However, the post-mortem reports ruled out any burn injuries on the bodies of the deceased. The FIR filed by the fire services department with Khandagiri police station said airconditioning ducts over the storeroom were burnt and sucked dense smoke which spread to the ICU, dialysis wards and other adjoining rooms through AC vents.
Fire department officials have said that like the 2011 fire tragedy at Kolkata’s AMRI hospital, where hospital staff tried to fight the flames themselves without informing the fire station, the SUM hospital staff too did not inform the fire department immediately.
Director General, fire services, B K Behera, Saturday said the nearest fire station was informed at least 45 minutes after the fire broke out. “Had we been informed immediately, casualties could have been less,” he said.