10 killed in blaze at COVID-19 care facility in Vijayawada

NDRF personnel shif a body from the COVID-19 care centre in Vijayawada on August 9, 2020.   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

Ten patients have died and another 20 suffered burns after a fire broke out at a private COVID-19 care centre in Vijayawada early on Sunday. Details of two more patients were not known.

The fire broke out at around 5 a.m. on the ground and first floors of the Hotel Swarna Palace, which had been leased by Ramesh Hospitals as a COVID care centre. There are about 40 rooms in the hotel, and patients were undergoing treatment in 30 of them. 

Director General of Disaster Response and Fire Services Department Md Ahsan Raza said one COVID-19 patient was charred to death while nine died of asphyxiation caused by the smoke. Three women were among the victims.

Thirty-two people were rescued by the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Response and Fire Services Department.

“According to available information, 30 patients and 10 hospital staff were in the hotel-turned-quarantine centre. Police, the NDRF, and fire personnel rescued 28 patients, and shifted 10 bodies to the Government General Hospital (COVID hospital) mortuary. The particulars of two patients are not known,” said Police Commissioner B. Srinivasulu.

One person working at the hotel suffered severe injuries after he jumped out a window on the first floor to escape the blaze. 

A criminal case under Sections 304 (2) and 308 of Indian Penal Code has been registered against the managements of Hotel Swarna Palace and Ramesh Hospitals. The State government set up two committees to conduct a detailed probe into the exact cause of the fire and other lapses that led to the tragedy.

Watch | Fire mishap at COVID Care Centre in Vijayawada

The State government said negligence on the part of the Ramesh Hospitals management in running the Covid Care Centre in the hotel since mid-July, was prima facie established.

“Swarna Palace is a major fire hazard. It did not even have proper exit points and that made the rescue operation very difficult and we had to use ladders to bring down the trapped people,” Mr. Raza said.

Deputy Chief Minister (Health) A K K Srinivas and Home Minister M Sucharita said 31 COVID-19 patients, six staff members each of the hospital and the hotel were in the building when the fire broke out in the reception lobby on the ground floor and spread to the first floor.

Modi, Shah express grief 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who spoke to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family members. 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan and State Home Minister M. Sucharitha expressed their condolences to the bereaved family members. 

The Chief Minister announced an ex gratia of ₹50 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased. Endowments Minister V. Srinivas, Director-General of Police D. Gautam Sawang, Collector A.Md. Imtiaz, A.P. State Disaster Response and Fire Services Director-General Hasan Reza and Director K. Jayaram Naik, and Regional Fire Officer G. Srinivas arrived at the spot to monitor the rescue operations.

TDP national president N. Chandrababu Naidu, BJP State president Somu Veerraju, and CPI(M) leader Babu Rao expressed shock at the tragedy and conveyed their condolences to the bereaved families.

Mr. Imtiaz said that the safety aspects at the other quarantine centres were being verified and stern action would be initiated against the persons responsible for the accident.

Mr. Jayaram Naik said that certain violations of fire safety norms were observed and the lease system was being verified. The Governorpet police have registered a case and are inquiring.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 8:21:19 PM |

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