At least 13 Covid-19 patients in intensive care unit died and 21 other patients in hospital were rushed out after a fire broke out in the air conditioning unit of Vijay Vallabh hospital in Virar, north of Mumbai, at 3 am on Friday.
The fire started in the air conditioning unit of the hospital’s ICU. There were 17 patients in the ICU at that time. “The incident occurred after 3 am and within 5 mins Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation fire brigade reached the spot. The fire was put out within minutes, but 13 of the 17 patients had died by then,” said deputy commissioner Kishore Gavas.
Ganesh Tandel 42, a resident of Nalasopara who lost his sister Shama Matre 48, a homemaker, was waiting for hours to get a death certificate as her body was kept at Vartak nagar mortuary following the mishap. “The hospital did not even inform us. We got to know at 7 am after watching news. When I reached here I saw the authorities speaking with police and politicians but no one cared to answer our questions. Nine members of my family tested positive and seven were admitted here. Six recovered and my sister was being treated here for past 45 days,” he said.
“She had fully recovered and we were happy she would be discharged soon but we never imagined this. We cannot express our sorrow in words. Some 10 to 12 days ago there was an oxygen problem. There was no oxygen for 4 hours. My sister still held on. Strict action has to be taken against hospital authorities,” Tandel wept.
By morning, 21 patients were moved to nearby hospitals. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has announced Rs 5 lakh each to the family members of the patients who died and Rs 1 lakh each to the critically injured patients.
As per a statement from the CM’s office, after learning about the fire, the Chief Minister has spoken to the concerned officials and instructed them them to give priority to extinguish the fire completely and ensure that the treatment of other patients continues unobstructed.
“The cause of the fire should be investigated properly. The administration has been instructed to see whether the appropriate fire safety measures were taken in the hospital and conduct a proper inquiry in it,” said Thackeray, in the statement.
“There were total 90 patients in four storey hospital building. While first floor is general ward, second floor has ICU facility and 17 patients were admitted at the time of incident. Rest two floors are functional as special wards,”said an official from Maharashtra state fire service department.
Sadanand Date, police commissioner, Mira-Bhayandar Vasai-Virar (MBVV) said,”I have asked our crime branch officials to investigate the matter.” When asked if a FIR is being registered, Date said,”We will take appropriate action based on our findings.”
The fire was doused by 3.45 am but cooling operations continue.
Former CM Devendra Fadnavis said, One more devastating incident. Deeply pained to know about loss of lives in Virar Covid Hospital ICU fire. My deepest condolences to bereaved families.”
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