INDIA. Mumbai: Thirteen COVID-19 patients lost their lives in a fire that broke out in the intensive care unit (ICU) after a blast in the AC unit, of the Vijay Vallabh Hospital, located at Bolinj in Virar West, about 56 km from Mumbai, in early hours of Friday.
The dead included five women and eight men. There were 85 patients in the hospital, 17 of them were in the intensive care unit (ICU) of whom 13 patients were on ventilator support, when the fire broke out, the Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation(VVMC) PRO Ganesh Patil
Told “The Transcontinental Times”.
The tragedy comes two days after 24 Covid-19 patients who were either on ventilator or oxygen support, suffocated to death when their oxygen supply stopped suddenly due to a malfunction in the main storage at a civic hospital in Nashik on Wednesday.
The fire at Virar hospital started around 3.13 am on the second floor of the hospital due to a short-circuit in the air conditioner in the ICU. Within minutes the fire brigade reached the spot and extinguished the fire by 3.45 am.
District Disaster Control Cell Chief Vivekanand Kadam said that the fire was preceded by an explosion in the AC unit of the ICU. The four survivors have been shifted elsewhere. Relatives of the deceased reached the hospital soon after hearing of the incident and demanded that stringent action against those responsible for the tragedy.
Vijay Vallabh Hospital is a private entity functioning as a COVID-19 hospital. There are general wards on the first, third, and fourth floors, while an ICU is located on the second floor. Visuals showed the smoke-filled ICU in a disarray after the blaze, with the ceiling falling off in some places, beds and other furniture was strewn around, and kin of the deceased wailing outside the hospital.
Condolences pour in, ex gratia announced
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of life and approved an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF (Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund) for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the hospital fire. Rs. 50,000 would be given to those seriously injured,” the PMO said in a tweet “.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also expressed his condolences for the victims of the hospital fire. “Disturbed by the heartbreaking news of multiple deaths due to a fire at the Vijay Vallabh hospital in Maharashtra’s Virar. May God give peace to the departed souls and their families the strength to bear this trauma. I pray all the injured make speedy recoveries,” he wrote.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi urged party workers to assist all those in need. “Tragic news has been received from Vijay Vallabh Covid center in Virar about the death of patients due to a fire. My deepest condolences to the families of the victims. I appeal to the State government and Congress workers to provide all necessary assistance,” he wrote on Telegram.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Saddened by the loss of lives due to tragic fire at a Hospital in Palghar, Maharashtra. My condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for the speedy recovery of the injured.”
Maharashtra Government orders probe
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered an inquiry into the incident. Thackeray spoke to concerned officials to ensure uninterrupted treatment of other patients. He also directed the administration to immediately inquire whether the hospital was adequately equipped in terms of fire safety. The Maharashtra government announced an ex gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh for those injured. Besides the VVMC also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased.
A series of mishaps
Maharashtra has been witnessing incidents of fire in hospitals in the last few months. Ten 10 infants perished in a fire at a hospital in Bhandara in the Vidarbha region on 09 January 2021. This was followed by a fire in a COVID-19 facility at a mall in Bhandup in northeast Mumbai on March 26, 2011, in which 11 patients died. Four patients died in a fire at the Well Treat Multispeciality hospital, Wadi in Nagpur on April 09, 2021. In the meanwhile taking suo moto cognizance of the fire at Nashik hospital on Wednesday, the Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra Government to file its reply about the mishap by 04 May 2021.
In the meanwhile India recorded over 3 lakh cases for the second straight day on Friday, clocking 3,32,730 cases in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry informed. With this, India’s trend of registering the world’s highest daily tally continues, pushing the country’s total infection count to 16,263,695 cases. As many as 2,263 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, mounting the coronavirus death toll to 186,920.