At least 18 coronavirus patients died in a fire at a hospital dedicated for treatment of COVID-19 patients in Gujarat’s Bharuch in the early hours on Saturday (May 1). About 50 other patients admitted in the hospital were rescued by locals and fire fighters.
The fire in the COVID-19 ward of the four-storeyed Welfare Hospital broke out at 1 am. Gut-wrenching visuals of the tragedy showed remains of some patients burnt alive on stretchers and beds.
The tragedy comes as healthcare facilities treating COVID patients burst at the seams due to the rapid rise in cases in the second wave of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus. Gujarat is one of the badly hit states in the second wave.
“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.
The 12 patients in the COVID-19 ward died due to the fire and resultant smoke, Bharuch SP Rajendrasinh Chudasama said.
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 Ahmedabad and is being run by a trust.
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, the official said.
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, he added.
Gujarat reported a record 14,605 daily cases of COVID and 173 deaths due to the disease on Friday, taking the total number of cases to 5,67,777 and the death toll to 7,183.
On Friday, India became the first country to report more than 4 lakh daily cases of COVID. It reported 4,08,323 fresh cases and 3,464 new deaths. Maharashtra, the worst affected state in the country, had 62,919 new cases, Karnataka 48,296, and Kerala 37,199.
There have bee a few instances of COVID patients dying in hospital fires in the past few weeks. On April 23, at least 13 COVID-19 patients died in a blaze at the private Vijay Vallabh Hospital at Virar in the Palghar district of Maharashtra. The fire broke out in the intensive care unit on the second floor of the four-storeyed hospital.
On March 26, at least 10 people died in a fire at the Dreams Mall Sunrise Hospital in Mumbai’s Bhandup area.
On April 21, at least 24 people died after a leak in an oxygen tank at the Dr Zakir Husain Hospital in Nashik.
(With agency inputs)