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Bhubaneswar: As Fani raged, hospital staff saw ceiling caving, saved 22 babies

In Bhubaneswar 11 medical staff rescued 22 newborns as a ceiling collapsed inside the building.

Written by Sampad Patnaik | Bhubaneswar, Puri |
May 10, 2019 3:22:00 am
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Even as parts of Odisha are yet to fully recover from the impact of Cyclone Fani which made landfall in Puri last week, stories of tragedies averted continue to emerge. One such example came from the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar where 11 medical staff rescued 22 newborns as a ceiling collapsed inside the building.

Seven staff nurses, two doctors and two postgraduate students were at the hospital on May 3 when 22 babies had been admitted to the sick and newborn care unit (SNCU). As they noticed dust falling off the false ceiling in the SNCU, the staffers immediately decided to rush the babies to safety.

READ | ‘Received four buckets of water today, feels like I won the lottery’

Ramarani Biswal (38), a staff nurse, said, “My shift had actually ended. But looking at the wind speeds in Bhubaneswar at the time, I decided to stay back.” She was a little worried about her husband and 13-year-old son. But the other staff nurses kept her company. As the wind speeds increased, Ramarani said a section of the hospital building began “vibrating”.

“Some of us noticed a fine powdery dust falling off the false ceiling in the SNCU,” said Dr Jyoti Prakash Mishra.

“There was no time to speculate. We immediately decided to bring out the babies.”

The staff took the babies to an adjoining verandah, after which the ceiling collapsed.

Dr Mishra said, “We noticed the verandah was also not a very safe place. It had a glass window, which on breaking may have sent shards flying towards the babies. We identified the parents and advised them to move the babies to Paedeatrics Intensive Care Unit (PICU).”

Fani aftermath: ‘Received four buckets of water today, feels like I won the lottery’ Houses damaged due to Cyclone Fani in Puri, Odisha. (Reuters Photo)

Chief Medical Officer Dr Narayan Sethi said no other wing in the hospital was as structurally vulnerable as the SNCU.

Meanwhile, the state government has pledged to complete power restoration in Bhubaneswar by May 12. However, Puri may not see complete power restoration before a month, said engineers working on the ground.

“About 80 per cent of consumers in Bhubaneswar will get power by May 10 and the entire city by May 12,” a spokesperson for the Information and Public Relations Department said. “In Bhubaneswar, uprooted trees and branches that have knocked down poles are the issue. But in Puri the problem is severe with 53 towers and eight grids damaged,” he said.

Considering the extent of damage, Chief Secretary Aditya Padhi had earlier announced that the state will apply for financial aid from the Centre for ‘cyclone resistant electrical infrastructure’.

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