News18» News»India»Infant Deaths: Soot and Smoke Telltale Signs of Fire That Claimed 10 Lives in Bhandara, Ex Minister Alleges Laxity
2-MIN READ

Infant Deaths: Soot and Smoke Telltale Signs of Fire That Claimed 10 Lives in Bhandara, Ex Minister Alleges Laxity

Rescue works underway after a fire broke out in the new born babies' care unit of the Bhandara District General Hospital in the wee hours, in Bhandara district of Maharashtra, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Rescue works underway after a fire broke out in the new born babies' care unit of the Bhandara District General Hospital in the wee hours, in Bhandara district of Maharashtra, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. (PTI Photo)

The scale and nature of the incident left the people of this east Maharashtra city shaken and condolences poured in from various sections of society.

The families of some of the 10 infants killed in a hospital fire here had complained about power fluctuations but no action was taken, alleged a former minister, as the blackened walls and charred furniture inside the ward told their own story of the ferocity of the blaze that broke out early Saturday. Access to the Bhandara district hospital was barricaded to keep the media away and restless crowds milled around outside, anxious for any information on the deaths of the 10 infants, aged between one and three months, inside the Special Newborn Care' unit.

The scale and nature of the incident left the people of this east Maharashtra city shaken and condolences poured in from various sections of society. While politicians, including current and former ministers, were allowed inside the building, scarcely anybody else was. Hospital authorities were tightlipped, refusing to divulge any information on the tragedy that had made national headlines.

ALSO READ | Probe Ordered in Bhandara Hospital Fire, Guilty Shall Not be Spared: CM Uddhav Thackeray

As anxiety mounted, speaking to those allowed inside was the only way for reporters to get information and try and piece together a narrative. Former Maharashtra energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule of the BJP claimed that relatives of the infants had complained about power fluctuations in the ward for the last week. "I spoke with relatives of the deceased infants. They told me that power fluctuations had been happening in the hospital ward since the last seven days. The relatives had asked the hospital staff to check electric switches etc, but apparently no action was taken," Bawankule told PTI.

Demanding a high-level inquiry, he also alleged that the hospital didn't have proper fire safety and electrical equipment in place. According to him, a proposal to purchase fire safety equipment worth over Rs 1 crore at the hospital sent to the principal secretary, health, and the director of health, in the state government is pending for approval.

While most people were not allowed inside, photographs from the ward gave an indication of intensity of the fire and its aftermath of soot and smoke. The walls were blackened, only the occasional patch of yellow showing through, the floor was thick with ash and dust and much of the furniture was charred. The metal stretchers and a few other accoutrements of a special hospital care unit such as the drip stand survived the fire, which broke out around 1.30 am. In the midst of the gloom shone a bright blue and white sign saying LED. State health minister Rajesh Tope told reporters that at least three of the 10 infants died of burn injuries while seven were suffocated to death because of the smoke.

District civil surgeon Pramod Khandate said there were 17 babies in the unit and seven were rescued. 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, he said. Fire brigade personnel rescued seven babies from the 'inbound ward' of the unit but could not save the 10 other babies, he said.

Khandate said the ward where newborn babies are kept requires a continuous supply of oxygen. "There were fire extinguishers and staff used them while trying to douse the fire. There was too much smoke," he added.


Next Story
Loading...