INDIA. Mumbai: Eleven persons were killed and over 70 people suffered asphyxiation when a massive fire broke out at a private COVID-19 hospital in Bhandup in northeast Mumbai on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.
The fire, which was classified as ‘Level 4’, broke out on the first floor of Dreams Mall, a three-story building, at around 12.30 AM on Thursday. Sunrise Hospital is located on the third floor. The fire was brought under control at 10:50 pm on Friday by the Mumbai fire brigade. As many as 14 fire engines and 10 jumbo water tankers were pressed into action after the fire was reported.
Several patients were evacuated as the smoke spread into Sunrise Hospital, which is a dedicated COVID-19 hospital. At least 76 patients were trapped inside, out of whom 73 were COVID-19 patients. 10 were pronounced dead. Later, the death toll in the mishap rose to 11 with Mumbai fire brigade officials stating that all of them had succumbed due to asphyxiation.
Following the incident, 30 patients were shifted to Mulund Jumbo center, a Covid-19 treatment facility, where four are in serious condition — two patients are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and two are on oxygen support. The other patients were admitted to different hospitals, while non-Covid-19 patients were shifted to Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
Sunrise Hospital CEO Dr. Hafeez Rehman said some patients were missing following the incident, and efforts were underway to identify and find them. He also added that the families of the deceased who died of Covid-19 had been informed of their deaths before the fire.
In a statement, Sunrise Hospital said the hospital was started in “exceptional circumstances of COVID-19 last year”, and has helped in saving many patients from coronavirus deaths. “It is functioning with all due compliance like fire license, nursing home license, etc. The hospital staff did a fantastic job in safely evacuating patients on wheelchairs and beds to the refuge areas and by following the fire drills,” it added.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray visited the mall on Friday to take stock of the situation. “An inquiry will be ordered. If there is any negligence or delay in it, it will be investigated and action will be taken against those who are responsible,” Thackeray said. He also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the next kin of each deceased.
The CM apologizes
The chief minister said that all efforts were made to rescue the patients admitted to the hospital. However, it took some time to evacuate those who were on ventilators. “Unfortunately, they died. He said that in the recent past he had given instructions to carry out structural and fire audits of COVID-19 care centers and field hospitals in his state. “I had asked the authorities to ensure such incidents do not occur. Still, unfortunately, this has taken place. I express regret to those who have lost their kin in the incident,” he said and added that “I apologize to the kin of those who died in the incident.”
PM condoles the mishap
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed his condolences over the loss of lives in the incident. “Pained by the loss of lives due to a fire at a hospital in Mumbai. I pray that the injured recover soon,” he said.
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar said the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained. After visiting the incident site, she added that a detailed probe would be carried out to ascertain the cause of the incident. “This is a very serious situation. First time I have seen a hospital in a mall. BMC will conduct an investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire and action will be taken accordingly,” she added.
Meanwhile, with 5,513 new coronavirus cases and nine deaths in Mumbai, the total caseload reached 3,85,628 on Friday. The total death toll in Mumbai stood at 11629. On the other hand, the Maharashtra government announced that a night curfew will be imposed in the state from March 28 due to rising coronavirus cases.