By Pervez Bari
BHOPAL – Out of 40 children admitted in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) of Kamala Nehru Hospital situated in the premises of Hamidia Hospital here in Bhopal, four reportedly succumbed to the fire mishap that erupted following a short circuit on Monday night.
Several other children and their caretakers, including parents, were injured following panic and chaos caused to a sudden fire on the third floor where the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is situated. As per hospital staff, many children in critical condition were shifted to the ICU of other hospitals. Some of the children admitted were taken out by breaking window glass.
Smoke engulfed the building, triggering panic among patients’ relatives, who ran inside to save them. Chaos broke out in the darkened, smoke-filled corridors, and security staff forced the patients’ relatives out. They kept arguing and pleading with police to be allowed in to check on their babies. Smoke was propelled by breaking glass of the ward. Finally, the fire was doused completely.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident, which would be conducted by an additional chief secretary, Health, Mohammad Suleman. The fire incident has again brought to light severe lapses in implementing safety norms in the govt hospitals in general and paediatric wards in particular.
Eyewitnesses said that parents were crying outside the hospital in desperation to know about the well-being of their wards, but there was no information available. Several parents were furious who alleged they were kept in the dark about the condition of their children. “I was shooed away when I wanted to enter the hospital”, said a woman.
Minister for Medical Education Vishvas Sarang rushed to the hospital to assess the situation and monitor the rescue operations. Local MLA Arif Masood also rushed to the hospital to take stock of the situation.
According to police, the fire was doused in more than one hour, but the ward was filled with smoke for a longer time, causing suffocation. Roads were barricaded to check the rush of people towards Hamidia Hospital. Police cordoned off the premises. Routes were diverted.
Fire brigade in-charge Rameshwar Neel said the fire incident seems to have been caused by a short circuit prima facie. Fire has been doused, and even smoke has been drained out from the ward.
SP (north) Vijay Khatri said the fire was quickly brought under control with the help of 25 fire tenders from Fatehgarh, Bairagarh, and Shahjahanabad stations.