Ten newborn babies died after a fire broke out in the special newborn care unit of a state-run hospital at Bhandara in Maharashtra in the early hours on Saturday while seven babies were rescued. The deceased infants were aged between one month and three months, a doctor said.
Health minister Rajesh Tope told reporters that at least three of the ten infants died of burn injuries while seven others died of suffocation caused by smoke. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has expressed grief over the incident and ordered a probe, an official statement said. Tope said Rs 5 lakh would be paid to family members of each of the deceased infant.
According to doctors, the blaze erupted in the special newborn care unit of the hospital around 1.30 am. Ten out of the 17 babies in the affected unit died while seven babies were rescued, a senior doctor at the hospital said. “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.
District civil surgeon Pramod Khandate said the fire broke out at the Bhandara district hospital around 1.30 am. “There were 17 babies in the unit and seven were rescued,” he added. A nurse first noticed smoke coming out from the neonatal section of the hospital and alerted doctors and other staff who reached there in five minutes, he said.
Fire brigade personnel rescued seven babies from the 'inbound ward' of the unit but could not save the 10 other babies, he said. Khandate said the ward where newborn babies are kept requires a continuous supply of oxygen. “There were fire extinguishers and staff used them while trying to douse the fire. There was too much smoke,” he added. He said patients from the ICU ward, dialysis wing and labour ward were also shifted to other wards safely.