At least 18 people died in a fire that broke out at a Covid hospital in the western Indian state of Gujarat in the wee hours of Saturday, officials said.
The deaths come on a day when India registered a record 4 lakh cases in 24 hours, for the first time after reporting over 3 lakh daily infections for nine days in a row.
In fact, there were 70 patients when the blaze started at Welfare Hospital on the Bharuch-Jambusar Highway, around 200 km from state capital Ahmedabad. At least five fire tenders were pressed into service and it took them two hours to contain the blaze.
Of the 18 dead, 16 were Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment at the hospital. Two others were hospital staffers who had been attending to patients, officials said.
"A total of 18 people, including two hospital employees, died in the fire," Bharuch District Collector MD Modia told the media. "The remaining 50 patients were safely shifted to a nearby hospital."
Local TV channels beamed footage of the charred bodies being pulled out of the hospital.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "pained by the loss of lives due to a fire at a hospital in Bharuch". "Condolences to the bereaved families," he tweeted.
A probe has been ordered into the incident, the District Collector said.
This is the second horrific hospital fire tragedy in India in the past one and a half months.
On March 26, some 10 Covid patients were killed in a massive fire that broke out at a coronavirus hospital in the Indian city of Mumbai.
The fire started at the first floor of Dreams Mall in Mumbai's Bhandup area and soon engulfed Sunrise Hospital on the fourth floor. At least 22 fire tenders were pressed into service but it took them several hours to contain the blaze.
Source: United News of Bangladesh