The Maharashtra government has announced an immediate audit of all hospitals in the state after ten newborn babies died in a fire that broke out in the Special Newborn Care Unit of a hospital in Maharashtra in the wee hours on Saturday. All the infants were between a month and three months old, a doctor said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered an inquiry into the incident and has asked state Health Minister Rajesh Tope to intervene, Shiv Sena's mouthpiece Saamana reported. Tope has announced Rs 5 lakh compensation for each of the bereaved families, and he will visit the hospital at 5pm.
Fire broke out in the Bhandara district hospital at around 2 am, the doctor said. There were 17 babies in the unit and seven were rescued, he added. Another doctor said a nurse first noticed smoke coming out from the neonatal section of the hospital and alerted doctors and other staff who reached there in five minutes.
Fire brigade personnel rescued seven babies from the 'inbound ward' of the unit but could not save the 10 other babies, he said. The cause of the fire in the four storeyed building is not known but could have been the result of an electrical short circuit, he said.
"The blaze erupted in the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) of the hospital at 2am. Seven children were rescued from the unit," said Pramod Khandate, Civil Surgeon.
Terming the incident "very painful", former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday demanded a thorough probe.
"The government should carry out a thorough inquiry into the incident and initiate action against those who are responsible for the death of 10 infants. It is a very painful accident," Fadnavis, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, said in a statement.
Ten children died in a fire that broke out at Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) of Bhandara District General Hospital at 2 am today. Seven children were rescued from the unit: Pramod Khandate, Civil Surgeon, Bhandara, Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/bTokrNQ28t— ANI (@ANI) January 9, 2021
भंडारा येथील जिल्हा रुग्णालयात शिशू केअर युनिटला लागलेल्या आगीत नवजात अर्भकांच्या झालेल्या मृत्यूबद्दल मुख्यमंत्री उद्धव बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांनी तीव्र दुःख व्यक्त केले आहे.— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) January 9, 2021
"As soon as he came to know about the incident, he spoke to Health Minister Rajesh Tope and directed an immediate inquiry into the whole incident. The Chief Minister has also spoken to the Collector and the Superintendent of Police and they have also been directed to investigate the matter," stated a tweet by the CM's official handle.
त्यांनी ही घटना कळताच आरोग्य मंत्री राजेश टोपे यांच्याशी बोलून या संपूर्ण घटनेची तात्काळ चौकशी करण्याचे निर्देश दिले आहेत. मुख्यमंत्री हे जिल्हाधिकारी तसेच पोलिस अधीक्षक यांच्याशी देखील बोलले असून त्यांनाही तपासाचे निर्देश देण्यात आले आहेत.— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) January 9, 2021
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi offered his condolences to bereaved families of the children, and appealed to the Maharashtra government to provide assistance to them. "The unfortunate incident of fire at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra is extremely tragic. My condolences to the families of the children who lost their lives. I appeal to Maha Govt to provide every possible assistance to the families of the injured & deceased(sic)," he said in a tweet.
The unfortunate incident of fire at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra is extremely tragic.My condolences to the families of the children who lost their lives.I appeal to Maha Govt to provide every possible assistance to the families of the injured & deceased.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 9, 2021
The fire accident in Bhandara district hospital, Maharashtra is very unfortunate. I am pained beyond words. My thoughts and condolences are with bereaved families. May God give them the strength to bear this irreparable loss.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) January 9, 2021
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also offered his condolences to the families, in a tweet. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after the incident, as well, hoping for the speedy recovery of those injured.
Heart-wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives. My thoughts are with all the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover as early as possible.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 9, 2021
(This is a breaking story. More details are awaited.)