Five COVID-19 patients were killed and six others injured in a fire in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital in Rajkot around 1 a.m. on Friday. The injured and other patients have been shifted to another hospital.
The fire was apparently caused by an electric short-circuit at Uday Shivanand hospital, a designated COVID-19 hospital, in Mavdi area.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani expressed grief over the incident and announced ex-gratia compensation to the next of kin of the deceased. He also ordered a probe by a senior IAS officer into the incident.
This is the second such tragedy in Gujarat. In August, eight COVID-19 patients were killed in a fire that broke out on the top floor of a four-storey private hospital in Ahmedabad.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths. The administration was ensuring all possible assistance to those affected, he said.
“Extremely pained by the loss of lives due to a hospital fire in Rajkot. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones in this unfortunate tragedy. Praying for a quick recovery of the injured. The administration is ensuring all possible assistance to those affected”, the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.
Supreme Court raps government
The Friday fire incident attracted the attention of the Supreme Court. It took suo motu cognisance of it and slammed the State administration, saying that recurrence of such fire accidents needed a thorough introspection. “These incidents are repeated and we notice that no complete steps being taken by States nor is there any mechanism to abrogate the situation”, it observed during a hearing.
Gujarat has been frequently witnessing fire incidents in factories and commercial buildings with high casualties.
On November 4, 12 daily wagers were charred to death when a fire engulfed a chemical warehouse in Ahmedabad.
In June last, a massive fire in a chemical factory in Dahej claimed 10 lives.
In February last, seven workers were killed in a fire in a textiles factory of Chiripal group in the industrial area of Ahmedabad.
In January, a blast and subsequent fire in a manufacturing unit near Vadodara killed six workers.
In May 2019, a massive fire in a commercial building sans any fire safety system in Surat killed 22 students who were attending a coaching class in the building.