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10 Infants Dead After Fire in Newborn Unit of Bhandara Hospital; Govt Orders 'Immediate Audit' of All Hospitals

Police officers investigate the scene after a fire broke out at District General Hospital in Bhandara, about 70 km from Nagpur, on January 9, 2021. (AP Photo)

Police officers investigate the scene after a fire broke out at District General Hospital in Bhandara, about 70 km from Nagpur, on January 9, 2021. (AP Photo)

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.

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.

"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.

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.

ALSO READ | PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi Offer Condolences to Families of 10 Babies Who Died in Bhandara Hospital Fire

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.

(This is a breaking story. More details are awaited.)

first published:January 09, 2021, 07:41 IST
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