Bharuch (Gujarat): At least 18 coronavirus patients died after a fire broke out at a hospital in Gujarat’s Bharuch in the early hours on Saturday. Gut-wrenching visuals of the tragedy showed remains of some patients roasted alive on stretchers and beds.
There were around 50 other patients at the four-storeyed Welfare Hospital when the fire broke out in the COVID-19 ward at 1 am. An official said that they were rescued by locals and firefighters. “As per information at 6.30 am, the death toll in the tragedy stood at 18. Immediately after the fire, we had confirmation of 12 deaths,” a police official told PTI.
Bharuch SP Rajendrasinh Chudasama said that the 12 patients in the COVID-19 ward died due to the fire and resultant smoke. It is not clear if the remaining six also died in the Welfare hospital or while being shifted to other hospitals.
The COVID-19 designated hospital is situated on the Bharuch-Jambusar highway, around 190 km from the state capital Ahmedabad and is being run by a trust. The official said that the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.
He added that the fire was controlled within an hour and around 50 patients were rescued by locals as well as firefighters, a fire official said. They were shifted to nearby hospitals. Several vehicles of the district police also reached the spot to ensure that law and order remain under control.
A relative of a patient who was shifted to the civil hospital here was seen searching for the case file in a heap of waste dumped after the fire. She said that she was looking for the case file so that doctors at the hospital where he was taken could begin his treatment immediately.
Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has expressed his condolences and has announced to provide financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh to the families of each of the deceased. “I express my condolences to the patients, doctors and hospital staff who lost their lives in the fire accident at Bharuch Hospital. The state government will provide assistance of Rs 4 lakh to the families of each of the victims of the accident,” tweeted Rupani.
The Chief Minister has also directed two senior IAS officers of the state, Additional Chief Secretary for Labour and Employment Vipul Mitra and Commissioner Municipalities Rajkumar Beniwal, to immediately reach Bharuch and investigate the incident. He has also said that the state government is also taking action to hand over a judicial inquiry into the tragedy.