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Maharashtra’s Bhandara district hospital lacked fire safety equipment, reveals RTI report

Image Source : PTI IMAGE

Bhandara: Rescue works underway after a fire broke out in the new born babies’ care unit of the Bhandara District General Hospital in the wee hours, in Bhandara district of Maharashtra, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021.

A major fire incident in Maharashtra claimed the lives of ten newborn babies in the wee hours of Saturday. The incident has triggered a massive wave of grief across the state with leaders demanding an immediate probe into the fatal incident. Meanwhile, details have revealed the Bhandara district hospital, where the incident took place, lacked fire safety arrangements. According to the details provided by the RTI, the Bhandara district hospital, in 2018 had said it lacked the equipment to control fire. 

The RTI, nearly two years ago had questioned the hospital over the presence of safety equipment in case of a fire, to which the Bhandara hospital had said there were no such arrangements. 

Commenting on the incident, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope today said at least three of the ten infants died of burn injuries in the Bhandara district hospital fire, while seven others died of suffocation caused by smoke on Saturday. He said Rs 5 lakh would be paid to family members of each of the deceased infant.

“The preliminary information available indicated that three infants died from burn injuries in the Bhandara district civil hospital while suffocation caused by smoke is the cause of the death of seven other infants,” Tope said in a video message.

He said the hospital staff saved seven other infants admitted in the affected Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“The medical staff on duty opened the windows and doors of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit wards and shifted the infants to adjoining wards. However, they could not save the 10 infants,” he said.

Tope said, “chief minister Uddhav Thackeray informed me of sanctioning Rs five lakh to each to the family members of the deceased infants”.

He said the bodies have been sent to their respective homes for conducting the last rites.

NCPCR seeks action in Maharashtra hospital fire

Apex child rights body NCPCR on Saturday asked the district collector of Maharashtra’s Bhandara to send a factual action taken report within 48 hours into the death of 10 newborn babies in a hospital fire there. The infants, all aged between a month and three months, died after a fire broke out at the Special Newborn Care Unit of the Bhandara district hospital in the early hours on Saturday, doctors at the facility said.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), in a letter to the district collector, also sought an inquiry into the matter.

“You are requested to conduct an inquiry into the matter and send a factual action taken report to the commission, along with all the necessary documents, within 48 hours from the receipt of this letter,” the letter read. 

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