A day after devastating fire, locals, police clash on premises

Even as the death toll in Friday's fire at AMRI Hospitals here rose to 91 on Saturday, six directors of the hospital were remanded in police custody for 10 days by a city court, while a seventh will be produced before the court once released from hospital.

Amid the ongoing probe, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said a judicial inquiry would be made into the incident. The hospital's licence has been revoked.

The simmering tension on the hospital complex at Dhakuria reached the flashpoint in the evening, when residents from the nearby areas, convinced that several bodies of children were left in the building, clashed with the police.

The premises of the affected wing of the hospital were off-limits for everyone, including journalists, throughout the day, but in the evening a van was allowed in, purportedly to remove hazardous materials from the building.

But residents refused to let the vehicle leave the area, alleging that it was a ploy to move the bodies of children away from the premises. Raising a clamour at the locked gates of the premises, they demanded that they be allowed to inspect the vehicle. For the second time in two days, the police had to resort to batons.

On Friday, the hospital authorities turned away residents of the area who had rushed to the hospital to offer their help.

A day after the tragedy, the police cordoned off the premises to prevent anyone from entering. A breach in the wall through which local youths had forced an entry has been boarded up; the snapped wire fencing has been fixed.

Wreaths were laid, condolence messages put up and candles lit outside the hospital in memory of the victims, while there were demonstrations in the vicinity against the negligence of the authorities.

Radioactivity scare

After rescue workers learnt about the presence of radioactive material in the radio therapy department, a team of experts from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) visited the hospital premises during the day.

Relatives are still looking for Santosh Das, a resident of Tripura who was admitted to the hospital but could neither be found in any of the hospitals to which patients were moved on Friday nor among the bodies at the morgue of the State-run S.S.K.M. hospital.