Families search for loved ones after fire engulfs Mumbai Covid-19 hospital

Ten people have died in the fire at a private facility in a shopping mall

A fire killed at least 10 people on Friday in a building that housed a private hospital treating coronavirus patients in Mumbai, India's financial capital, a fire official said.

A massive fire tore through the four-storey Dream’s Mall before engulfing the Sunrise Hospital on the top floor around midnight on Thursday.

More than 30 fire engines and water tankers arrived at the scene at 12.30am on Friday, but struggled to douse the blaze that had ripped through the makeshift hospital. Hours later the blaze resurfaced on the back of the mall.

Television stations showed fire brigade cranes rescuing terrified patients as thick black smoke billowed from the building.

“The death toll in the fire at Dreams Mall, Bhandup West, has gone up to ten,” Mumbai police confirmed in a tweet.

The hospital had 76 patients—73 Covid-19 patients and three others—at the time of the incident. More than 65 patients were rescued and were shifted to various hospitals in the city.

Most of them were evacuated in an emergency, leaving behind their records and mobile phones and making it difficult for authorities to ascertain their identities or contact their relatives.

"My brother's father-in-law was admitted to the hospital yesterday. He was in the intensive care unit but was pretty stable. He did not have a phone. We have been looking for him since 7am this morning," Dishita Ashar, 27, told The National.

“There is no trace of him, we are checking every few hours. We have checked all the hospitals; his name is not on the lists. We are not sure [if he is alive],” said Ms Ashar.

The cause of the fire has not been confirmed, but an investigation into the cause of the fire has begun.

It occurred at a time the city is reeling from an upsurge in coronavirus cases, with record 5,500 Covid-19 cases reported on Thursday.

Maharashtra state chief minister said the hospital was a temporary set up due to a surge in coronavirus cases in the city.

"The permission was to end on March 31. Unfortunately, the fire broke on the first floor of the mall and spread upwards," Mr Uddhav Thackeray told the local media.

Last November, at least five patients were killed after a fire gutted the intensive care unit ward at a hospital in western Gujarat state.

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