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Bhopal hospital blaze: 8 more babies die, hospital says not linked to fire

The hospital administration said the new deaths were not linked to the fire but the list includes the twin of the day-old infant that had succumbed to the blaze two days ago.

Written by Iram Siddique | Bhopal |
November 11, 2021 3:20:53 am
The fire started on the third floor of the hospital building, which houses the ICU. (File photo)

EIGHT MORE infants have died at Bhopal’s government-run Kamla Nehru Hospital in the 36 hours after the fire that claimed the lives of four other infants on Monday evening, officials said.

The hospital administration said the new deaths were not linked to the fire but the list includes the twin of the day-old infant that had succumbed to the blaze two days ago.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Narayan Yadav, the grandfather of the twins, said: “The first baby died in the fire and was declared dead on Monday morning. The second baby was declared dead on Tuesday evening but the hospital authorities identified it as a normal death.”

He said: “My son and I were inside the ward when the fire broke out on Monday. The smoke was so strong that even we could not bear it, but the hospital authorities claim that the babies were not affected by it. We want to know what caused our baby’s death.”

“These eight deaths are not linked to the fire,” said Dr Jyotsana Shrivastava, who heads the paediatrics ward.

“The paediatrics ward has an annual average of 3.9 per cent deaths. The infants are often premature babies brought in critical condition, suffering from respiratory issues, and we record such deaths on a daily basis,” said Shrivastava.

“In cases where parents are claiming that the death of their infant was due to the fire, the hospital administration is conducting a post-mortem. Only one such family has demanded a post-mortem so far,” Shrivastava said, referring to the twin’s case.

The hospital reported six deaths of infants in the past 24 hours at the local Koh-e-fiza police station.

The station’s Inspector in charge, Anil Vajpai, said: “Of the six suspicious deaths recorded, four were those of the infants that died on the night of the fire, while one baby died before the fire and another on Tuesday afternoon. The post-mortem report is awaited.”

Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government has removed Gandhi Medical College (Hamidia) dean Jitendra Shukla and Superintendent Lokendra Dave, under whom Kamla Nehru Hospital was functioning, for failing to obtain a No objection Certificate (NoC) from the Fire Department since 2003.

Apart from Shukla and Dave, Deputy Secretary of Gas Rahat Department, K K Dubey, was also removed since the building that housed the hospital was under the department.

“The dean and superintendent were removed as they were directly responsible for the functioning and upkeep of the hospital. The deputy secretary of the Gas Rahat Department has also been removed as the building was with the department while the sub-engineer of CPA (Capital Project Administration) has been suspended as primarily the maintenance of the building was with CPA,” said Medical Education Minister Vishwas Sarang.

According to fire officer Rameshwar Neel, the hydraulic system and other fire-fighting equipment, including fire extinguishers, were not functioning when the fire broke out at 8:30 pm Monday.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered for a fire audit to be conducted across all government and private hospitals in the state to be overseen by District Collectors.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Arif Masood has demanded that the investigation into the fire should be handed over to a High Court judge “to ensure an impartial probe”.

The probe is now being conducted by ACS (Health) Mohammad Suleman.

Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta has accused the ruling BJP government of shielding the “real culprits”. “Who is the government trying to save?” he asked.

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