Fire in Indian hospital kills 11 Covid-19 patients

Two of the seven patients injured are said to be in critical condition

Eleven Covid-19 patients were killed on Saturday when a fire tore through an intensive care ward at a government-run hospital in western India.

At least 17 coronavirus patients were undergoing treatment on the ground floor of the district civil hospital in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra state, when the blaze broke out at about noon.

Virendra Badadhe, disaster management officer of Ahmednagar district, told The National six patients were injured and one of them, who was in a critical condition, has been moved to a private hospital for advanced treatment.

Social media and television footage showed thick black smoke billowing from the hospital ward and chaotic scenes of doctors and staff trying to rescue and revive patients.

Two of the seven people injured in the incident are in critical condition, Ahmednagar’s district collector, Rajendra Bhosle, told The National.

"The blaze has been put off and we are investigating," he said.

Fire department officials said an electrical short circuit could have caused the fire.

Authorities were trying to identify the dead.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences to the families of those killed, and Maharashtra state government announced compensation of 500,000 rupees ($6,739).

Nearly 100 Covid-19 patients have died in about two dozen hospital fires in India since August 2020.

Many experts have blamed hospital equipment such as air conditioners and ventilators for the blazes.

At least 43 such deaths were reported in Maharashtra state. It is the state hit worst by the pandemic, with about 66 million cases recorded.

The country’s overall caseload stands at 34 million, but it has reported a sharp drop in new infections. The active caseload is about 150,000.

Updated: November 7th 2021, 11:44 AM