Four Covid patients died of suffocation and another due to burn injuries when a fire broke out on the third floor of a private hospital in Raipur.
Nine patients were inside Rajdhani Hospital’s Covid ward where the fire broke out on Saturday afternoon, allegedly due to a short circuit. Raipur SP Ajay Yadav said, “There were 34 patients in the hospital… We are investigating further.” Sources in the police said prima facie it looked like a case of negligence, as the hospital premises didn’t have updated fire safety gear.
While Ramesh Sahu died of burn injuries, L Ishwar Rao, Vandana Gajamala, Bhagyashree and Devaki Sonkar died due to suffocation and lack of oxygen. “These patients were Covid-positive and some were on oxygen support, which would have been disrupted due to the fire,” an official said.
Patients were rushed out of the building by staff members wearing PPE kits and were transferred to other hospitals. At the time of going to the press, police and fire brigade teams were inside the hospital to investigate and assess the cause and damage.
District and police officials were kept in the dark, sources said, by the hospital authority regarding the number of deaths. Senior district officials said the hospital initially claimed the fifth death took place before the incident but “only when we visited the spot did the doctors confirm that the fifth patient had died of suffocation”.
Hospital authorities did not respond to requests for a comment.
Calling the incident “unfortunate”, CM Bhupesh Baghel announced Rs 4 lakh compensation for families of the deceased.
According to the family members of one of the deceased, they were informed hours after the incident by the hospital staff. Requesting anonymity, a close relative of one of the deceased said, “We are made to pay enormous amounts of money for the facilities, and now we find out that even the fire alarm and fire fighting system in the hospital were not working.”