Seventeen beggars suffering from various ailments and old age have died in the past two days and authorities have ordered a probe into the incident besides conducting an inspection of the relief centre in Bangalore where they were lodged.

Eleven inmates of the Beggars’ Relief Centre, the only one in Bangalore which houses as many as 2500 beggars, died on Wednesday.

Seeking to downplay the incident, social welfare authorities said it was “mainly due to old age related ailments.” Six more beggars succumbed to their ailments in the isolation hospital on Thursday, hospital authorities said.

“Of the 15 inmates, who were admitted with severe gastroenteritis today due to extreme unhygienic conditions prevailing in the centre, seven died,” they told PTI.

Condition of the others is being monitored, they added.

Some doctors, who visited the centre, said the deaths must have occurred due to “very unhealthy” conditions prevailing in the centre which aggravated the ailments of some inmates who were already suffering from various infections.

Principal Secretary Social Welfare Department Venkateshaiah and Social Welfare Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, who visited the spot, said steps were being taken to ensure that such incidents do not recur. They said Social Welfare Minister D Sudhakar, who rushed to the spot yesterday, had already ordered an inquiry.

The steps include provision of clean drinking water and necessary medicines to treat other inmates who are also suffering from various old age related ailments, they said.

A team of doctors from Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and Primary Health Centre have been dispatched to the centre to treat the sick inmates, Venkateshaiah said.

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