Vijayawada Police Commissioner B Srinivasulu said 31 Covid-19 patients were being treated by Ramesh Hospital which had lodged them at Swarna Palace Hotel in Governorpet. “Fire and Police officials rescued 21 patients, two hotel staff and six staff of Ramesh Hospital taking care of the patients,’’ Srinivasulu said.
Health Minister A Krishna Srinivas said all 21 patients rescued as well as the hospital staff were taken to Ramesh Hospital and were doing well. None of the patients needed oxygen support.”
He said private hospitals were taking advantage of people’s fear of the Coronavirus and their reluctance to take treatment at government hospitals by charging exorbitant fees in the name of good treatment at private hotels. “It seems Ramesh Hospital failed to check whether this hotel was safe and whether it had taken fire safety measures. The ten patients who were already having breathing problems asphyxiated to death due thick fumes that engulfed the first and second floors of the hotel,’’ he said.
Ramesh Hospital had taken the five-storey hotel on lease to lodge Covid-19 patients. The patients had taken a package of Rs 5,000 per day including three meals, hot beverages and snacks, until they were discharged, apart from treatment and other hospital charges.
Fire officials said they received a call at 5.15 am and the fire was brought under control 25 minutes later. Officials said that prima facie it appears that a short-circuit in an air-conditioning unit caused the fire in the hotel reception area and quickly spread to the second floor. By the time fire and rescue officials reached the hotel, many patients on the upper floors were screaming from windows to be rescued. Officials said the staircase was on fire when they reached.
Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy announced ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakhs to the kin of the deceased. He also ordered an in-depth probe into the accident and directed authorities to take steps to ensure better medical services to the victims of the accident.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of the lives in the fire mishap and spoke to CM Jagan Mohan Reddy over phone and enquired about the accident.
An FIR was lodged at Governorpet Police Station against the hotel management and Ramesh Hospital owners by the Mandal Revenue Officer of Vijayawada Central. In the complaint MRO P Jaya Sri stated that both the hotel and hospital staff knew about electrical defects in air conditioning units and wiring and in spite of the danger it posed, did not bother to conduct repairs as it involved a lot of expenditure. “The fire occurred due to a short circuit and the hotel and hospital managements are responsible for it,” she stated in her complaint. A case has been registered under section 304 (II), 308 read with 34 IPC.
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