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Mumbai Covid care hospital fire: ‘Most victims were aged over 60, died of asphyxiation

Navghar resident Harish Karamchand Sachdeva (60) was also admitted at 4 pm on Friday to the ICU at Sunrise hospital with high flow oxygen support.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
Updated: March 27, 2021 1:57:50 am
Mumbai fire newsThe ten patients who died in the Sunrise hospital fire mishap were either on oxygen support or in the ICU with Covid-19, and could not survive smoke inhalation due to the condition of their already compromised-lungs(express photo)

The ten patients who died in the Sunrise hospital fire mishap were either on oxygen support or in the ICU with Covid-19, and could not survive smoke inhalation due to the condition of their already compromised-lungs. Most were aged above 60 years and could not rush to safety like others. Many had been admitted only hours before the fire broke out.

Shyam Bhaktiyani (78) was transferred from Mulund jumbo centre to Sunrise on Friday at 10 pm. Two hours later, the fire sparked in Dream Mall’s first floor. Bhaktiyani was admitted with severe cardiac distress on the third floor ICU. “When we came to know of the fire at 2 am, we started making calls everywhere. The hospital line was dead. Mulund jumbo centre asked us to contact the S-Ward. S-Ward officials asked us to visit Rajawadi hospital. Our family members went to multiple hospitals to look for him,” said Bhaktiykani’s son-in-law Prem Bhatia. At Sunrise hospital in Bhandup, neither hospital officials nor the fire brigade had any information. When an official informed the family that all bodies had been sent to MT Agarwal Hospital, the family reached there by Friday afternoon. They identified his body through his dyed hair and clothes. “He had no burn injuries, but there was carbon deposited from smoke all over,” a relative said. It was only early in the evening that the hospital transferred the body to Rajawadi for post-mortem.

Navghar resident Harish Karamchand Sachdeva (60) was also admitted at 4 pm on Friday to the ICU at Sunrise hospital with high flow oxygen support. His son Karan said they saw the news of the fire on television and rushed to different hospitals, before finding his father’s body at MT Agarwal Hospital.

Several families complained of a lack of coordination between police and BMC, forcing families to run from one hospital to another. Patients had been shifted to the Mulund jumbo centre, BKC jumbo centre, Fortis hospital, and a few had gone to other private hospitals. The bodies were first sent to MT Agarwal and later shifted to Rajawadi for an autopsy.

Deputy Municipal Commissioner P Rahangdale said fire officials found eight patients on ventilator inside the hospital ward when rescue team entered Sunrise hospital. All eight were later declared dead on arrival and they had no one from the hospital staff to rescue them. Dr Vikrant Tikone said all died of asphyxiation, “They were critical and old, and perhaps could not move when the fire started. They were on oxygen support and smoke is dangerous for the lungs of such compromised patients.’

M Shankaran Iyer (78) was admitted into the hospital on March 17. His whole family is down with Covid-19 and is under home isolation. When they heard about the fire, they reached out to friends and neighbours to locate him. Iyer’s body was the last to be identified among the deceased. “I went to the Sunrise, where we were told to reach out to Mulund jumbo centre. For several hours, we could not locate him,” said Shivam Palande, Iyer’s neighbour.

Sudhir Lad (65) was admitted to Sunrise hospital on Tuesday. He was in the ICU, but stable, and had last spoken with his family on the phone on Thursday. “When I was leaving the hospital at 11.30 pm, I heard the fire alarm and I informed the security downstairs. But they did not pay attention to me. I wasn’t sure if it was a fire, as I saw nothing. So, I left,” said son-in-law Vaibhav Salvi, who lives nearby in Bhandup. Salvi rushed to the hospital after midnight when he heard about the fire. Lad, who has died of asphyxiation, was found in the ICU. His family said they were planning to move him to Fortis hospital a day later for better treatment. Salvi waited for at least 16 hours for police and doctors in MT Agarwal Hospital to finish formalities as he sat in the hospital compound to take the body to Rajawadi for an autopsy.

A Buldhana based Maharashtra police constable also lost both his parents in the fire. Abaji Patil (63) and Sunanda Patil (58) were admitted in the ICU of hospital on March 21. Their bodies were found in the ICU cots by fire brigade.

Jayprakash Vishwakarma (52) died at the Mulund jumbo centre while undergoing treatment on Friday afternoon. He was shifted from Sunrise hospital early on Friday. Doctors said he was on ventilator support.

Late on Friday night BMC Commissioner Iqbal Chahal ordered an inquiry into the mishap under deputy Municipal Commissioner P Rahangdale. The probe will look into cause of fire, whether there were complaince issues, and to fix responsibility on concerned officers. The report will be submitted in a fortnight.

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