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Rediff.com  » News » In PHOTOS: Fire at Kolkata's AMRI hospital; death toll rises

In PHOTOS: Fire at Kolkata's AMRI hospital; death toll rises

Last updated on: December 9, 2011 15:22 IST

Fire at Kolkata's AMRI hospital; death toll rises

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At least 73 patients suffocated to death when a massive fire broke out in a centrally air-conditioned seven-storey private hospital in Kolkata on Friday.

 

Police and hospital sources said 73 people had died in the fire at the private 190-bed AMRI Hospital at Dhakuria in the southern fringes.

 

The fire in the annexe building of the hospital was detected at around 3:30 am by local people who rushed to the gates, but were driven away by the security guards, following which the fire spread swiftly, West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said.

 

As smoke billowed out, firemen using ladders with platforms smashed window panes in the facade of the building to rescue patients trapped inside the ICU, ICCU, Intensive Therapy Unit and Critical Care units.

AMRI helpline number: 99932215296

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According to a hospital source, more than 80 per cent of the patients admitted to the ICCU and ITU of the hospital are feared dead. 

Some of the bodies have already been identified.

"Cans of diesel and petrol are kept at the hospital basement. They are used as fuel for the generators," a hospital employee told rediff.com on condition of anonymity, adding,
"Those cans fanned a minor fire into a disaster."

Tarun Mukherjee, a volunteer who played a major role in rescuing people from Kolkata's Stephen Court fire in 2010, reached AMRI as early as 4.30 am. "Till now, I shifted 26 bodies from the hospital and rescued at least 40," he told rediff.com.


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He said if proper fire fighting arrangements existed at the hospital, such a fire could not have taken place.

 

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who visited the hospital, ordered cancellation of its licence. She urged angry relatives of the victims to go to the state-run SSKM Hospital to identify the bodies.

Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan told PTI that the National Disaster Response Force team would be arriving shortly to determine if there was radioactive leakage from the oncology department.

 

Senior Vice President of AMRI S Upadhay said there were 160 patients in the annexe building at the time of the fire. Upadhay claimed that the hospital followed strict fire safety measures and conducted regular fire drills. "All statutory safety and fire licences are in place."


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He announced Rs 5 lakh as compensation for the next of kin of those who died, while those injured would be treated free at the hospital.

 

The Disaster Management Minister said that the chief minister had directed lodging of an FIR against the AMRI Hospital authorities.

 

The state government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

 

Hakim said that 250 firemen in 25 fire engines battled the blaze and smoke with a police cordon thrown around the hospital.


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Fire brigade sources said that firemen were trying to locate oxygen cylinders stocked on the floors, as the fire could make them explode.

 

Thick smoke was hindering the operations, they said.

Family members of patients vandalised the reception counter aggrieved that no list of the dead and injured was provided.They smashed glass panes at the reception and threw away hospital registers.

Governor M K Narayanan expressed shock and hoped that the state government would take necessary steps to identify the causes of the fire and initiate appropriate action.


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