Other States

Ten newborns killed in fire at Maharashtra government hospital

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh visits Bhandara District General Hospital on January 9, 2021. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Ten infants were killed in a fire that swept through the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at the Bhandara District General Hospital of Maharashtra early on Saturday. Seven other infants in the unit were rescued. 

Terming the tragedy as mind-numbing, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered a probe into the incident and called for a fire audit of all government hospitals in the State. 

The fire reportedly broke out at around 1.30 am on Saturday. The administration managed to rescue only seven out of seventeen children. 

According to Pramod Khandate, chief surgeon at the hospital, around 1.30 a.m. the staff nurse found smoke coming from the ward treating babies referred to the hospital from other hospitals. When she went into the room, she could not see anything because of thick smoke. 

“She informed the higher authorities and all of us reached there. As far as possible, we personallytook the babies outside and in the next five minutes, fire brigade reached,” Dr. Khandate said. 

Seven babies from another ICU for children born in the hospital were rescued, he added. 

The 10 dead infants have been identified by their families and the further procedures have been initiated, he said. 

“The rescued babies saved are doing good and shifted to another room. We also shifted the patients of the nearby wards-ICU, labour room and dialysis patient to another rooms,” Dr Khandate said. 

“The hospital team took control of the fire and doused it and fire team soon joined them. We are enquiring into the incident and will take action soon,” Sandeep Kadam, Collector of Bhandara said. 

The incident has triggered an uproar in government corridors with state government announcing financial aid of ₹5 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to each bereaved family.

Calling the incident mind-numbing, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered a probe in the incident after a meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Health Minister Rajesh Tope, Minister of State for Health Rajendra Patil-Yadravkar and Mr Kadam, following the incident. 

“All hospitals in the State should undergo fire audit immediately. The State’s health team is fighting the coronavirus, but there cannot any compromise with the safety of the hospitals and patients,” Mr Thackeray said, adding that he has instructed the Home and Health Ministers to take strictest action possible against those responsible for the tragedy. 

Of the the 10 babies who have lost lives in Bhandara hospital fire incident, nine have been identified. One baby was found on the road side a week back by the police officials and was admitted to the hospital for treatment. A case against the parents of the abandoned baby was filed then. "The baby was abandoned. The investigations in that case is also on," Vasant Jadhav, Superintendent of Police, Bhandara, said. 

“Four teams of experts from the Nagpur Fire Service College, Forensic department and electrical department officials are present at Bhandara and are investigating the exact cause of the fire,” Superintendent of Police, Bhandara Vasant Jadhav said.

The mothers of the babies who lost their lives have been identified as Hirakanya Hiralal Bhanarkar, Priyanka Jayant Baseshankar, Yogita Vikesh Dhulse, Sushma Pandhari Bhandari, Gita Vishwanath Behre, Durga Vishal Rahangdale, Sukeshni Dharampal Agra, Kavita Barelal Kumbhare and Vandana Mohan Sidam. And the mothers of the seven babies who were rescued, were identified as Shyamkala Shende, twin babies of Diksha Dinesh Khandate, Anjana Yuvraj Bhode, Chetana Chachere, Karishma Kanhaiya Meshram and Sonu Manoj Marbate.

The new room for children in the building was inaugurated in 2015.

Mr Thackeray has instructed the officers to verify if the audit was completed. He also directed to provide updated information on the investigation of the accident on a daily basis. 

“Prima facie, the fire seems to have originated from Air Conditioner. The death of the babies happened due to suffocation that was caused by the smoke. A case of accidental death has been registered and further investigations are on," senior police inspector, Lokesh Kanse from Bhandara City police station said. 

“The nurse who was posted outside NICU, heard a blast and saw smoke inside the NICU of out-ward ward of NICU. When she entered the ward, she got engulfed in smoke,” an officer from the state run SNCU at Bhandara, said. 

State’s Health Minister Rajesh Tope who visited the hospital on Saturday morning said a committee headed by Health Director Sadhana Tayde will probe the incident and submit its report in three days.

“The committee will submit the report on structural, fire and fire-extinguisher audit and specific reasons behind the blast and subsequent fire. No one will be spared,” he said, adding that the nurses and wardboys showed courage in saving the lives of the newborns. 

The Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis too visited the hospital and demanded strict action against the guilty. 

From President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, all expressed grief and shock over the incident.

“Heart wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives. My thoughts are with all the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover as early as possible,” tweeted Mr. Modi.

Mr. Gandhi tweeted, “The unfortunate incident of fire at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra is extremely tragic. My condolences to the families of the children who lost their lives. I appeal to Maha Govt to provide every possible assistance to the families of the injured & deceased,” he wrote. Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted saying, “The fire accident in Bhandara district hospital, Maharashtra is very unfortunate. I am pained beyond words. My thoughts and condolences are with bereaved families. May God give them the strength to bear this irreparable loss.” 

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 2:52:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-ten-newborn-babies-die-in-bhandara-hospital-fire/article33534564.ece

Next Story