5 COVID-19 patients die in Gujarat hospital fire; SC takes cognisance
Ahmedabad: Five Coronavirus patients died after a fire broke out in the ICU of a designated COVID-19 hospital at Rajkot in Gujarat on Friday.
The Supreme Court took cognizance of the fire incident and sought a report from Gujarat government on the issue.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said 26 patients at the hospital were rescued and shifted to other facilities.
The fire broke out around 12.30 am in the ICU ward located on the first floor of the four-storey Uday Shivanand Hospital in Anand Bungalow Chowk area, where around 31 patients were admitted, Patel added.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani expressed grief over the incident and ordered a probe into it. He also announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of each deceased.
Rajkot Police Commissioner Manoj Agarwal said, "Out of the 11 Coronavirus patients admitted to the ICU ward, five lost their lives in the fire, which was quickly brought under control before it could spread to other floors."
While three Coronavirus patients died on the spot, two others succumbed to the injuries while they were being shifted to another hospital, he added.
"Nobody else was injured in the incident. Twenty-six other patients, including those who were undergoing treatment on the upper floors, were shifted to other hospitals," Patel said.
Preliminary probe revealed that the fire was a result of short circuit in a ventilator, he said, adding that the private hospital had fire NOC and all the firefighting equipment was installed there.
The Chief Minister's Office said senior IAS officer AK Rakesh would carry out the probe into the incident.
The Supreme Court came down heavily on states for not taking any concrete action to mitigate the problem despite repeated instances.
Terming the incident as shocking , the apex court said this is a very serious thing and it reflects the situation of designated government hospitals as similar instances have taken place in other places also.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said the incident showed that there are no proper fire safety measures in place there to deal with such situation. We are taking suo motu cognisance. This is a very serious thing, said the bench, also comprising Justices R S Reddy and M R Shah, and asked the Gujarat government to submit its report on this by December 1.
In the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, assured the bench that the Union home secretary will convene a meeting latest by Saturday and issue directions on fire safety in government hospitals across India.
The bench further said: There must be inspection of whether electricity lines are proper, whether cables and wires are proper. How does this short circuit happen. The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on December 1.