A fire that broke out at the ESIC Kamgar Hospital at Marol in suburban Andheri in Mumbai claimed 8 lives, injuring 145 patients and visitors. The deceased also includes a six-month old girl. Four of the eight deceased are yet to be identified. Firefighting operations went on for three hours at the hospital.
The Disaster Management Cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that 147 people were rescued from the hospital, after which they were moved to different hospitals. The official also said that 19 of them were taken to civic-run Cooper Hospital, where two were declared brought dead.
Another 33 were moved to Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri where three were declared dead. One of the forty injured taken to Holy Spirit Hospital, Andheri (East) was declared brought dead.
Some of the injured were discharged, while some were undergoing treatment and some were in the ICU.
A fire brigade official said that the fire was reported at 4:03 pm and it was extinguished at 7:35 pm. The fire broke out on the fourth floor of the ground plus five-floor structure. While the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, a short circuit in a window AC unit is likely to be a possible cause. According to a report in The Times of India, an Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) fire officer said that the hospital did not have an OC or fire NOC (no objection certificate) and had a lack of safety provisions. He also said that they had served a notice to the hospital only fifteen days ago.
According to the report, there was only one exit and the other was blocked due to some construction work. Moreover, the glass facade and limited ventilation posed challenges to the fire fighting team. Fire brigade personnel had to break the glasses of the building's facade to evacuate stranded patients, they said.
Recalling the horror, a patient, Santosh Kadam, told PTI, "I was on the fourth floor and was going to the ground floor to get my MRI done. Suddenly, nurses and other staffers started shouting and told us to vacate the building since a fire had broken out. I along with my other relatives came down safely."
Another patient Girish Patel said, "I saw smoke emanating from the third and fourth floors. There was thick layer of smoke. People panicked and started running helter-skelter before hospital staff came and advised us to vacate the floor quietly."
Milind Ogle, the deputy chief fire officer of the MIDC area, told PTI, "Our team had found some lacunae in an under-construction building coming up adjacent to the hospital and suggested their rectification."
"The hospital administration was in the process of complying with our suggestions. Meanwhile, this incident took place in the old hospital building," Ogle said.
The 325-bed hospital was constructed in 1970s, the officials said, adding police and hospital authorities have vacated the building till further notice. Additional Commissioner of Police Manoj Sharma said an inquiry will be launched in association with the fire brigade department to ascertain the cause of the fire.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya; with PTI inputs)