TEN newborns were killed on Saturday(9) in a massive fire at a hospital in Maharashtra, India’s richest state, a doctor said, as leading politicians expressed grief at the loss of life.
“The fire broke out at 2 a.m. (2030 GMT) today,” said Pramod Khandate, civil surgeon at Bhandara District General Hospital in the western state. Seven of the 17 children in the Sick Newborn Care Unit were rescued, Khandate said.
“The cause of the fire is not known yet but our staff extinguished the fire as soon as they could. The smoke led to the babies suffocating.”
Nurses on duty noticed a fire coming from the hospital’s neonatal unit and raised the alarm.
The fire brigade stopped the blaze from spreading to other parts of the hospital and other patients were moved to safety.
All of those who died were aged between a few days and three months, according to reports.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thakre ordered a probe into the incident.
“Heart-wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. “My thoughts are with all the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover as early as possible.”
A number of other politicians, including opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, also expressed their grief.
The latest disaster in Maharashtra has raised doubts about safety in Indian hospitals. More than 90 people died in an inferno in a Kolkata hospital in 2011.
A fire at a hospital in Ahmedabad in August killed eight coronavirus patients. Another five Covid-19 patients died in a blaze in a clinic in Rajkot in November.
The Supreme Court called for a report on safety in coronavirus hospitals because of the incidents.