Bhubaneswar: At least 20 people were killed and several injured in a devastating fire that broke out at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, here, on Monday evening.
While SUM hospital authorities kept mum on whether any patient had died on its premises, different hospitals where the patients were shifted confirmed having received 22 bodies. “Some private hospitals and the government-run Capital Hospital received dead bodies. These patients were shifted from SUM Hospital,” Khurda district collector Niranjan Sahoo said.
The fire, which started around 7.30pm in the dialysis ward on the second floor and spread quickly, could have been sparked by a short circuit, hospital sources said. Seven patients on ventilators were at the dialysis unit when the fire broke out.Eleven other critical patients were in the nearby ICU, the sources said.
“The patients could have died on the way to other hospitals. We are inquiring into the matter. We will also find out whether any patient died at SUM,” health secretary Arti Ahuja said. Several patients and their attendants were injured while try ing to escape amid the chaos and smoke. Some of the frightened patients tried to jump from the second floor, but were stopped by firemen and cops.
“I was carrying my ailing father on my shoulders but fell down in the chaos. The smoke was so thick, I couldn’t find my father. Some hospital staffers dragged me out, but my father got trapped inside,” said an inconsolable Jyoti Behera.
SUM deputy super Basant Pati said hospital employees broke open windowpanes to prevent the pati ents from suffocating and started bringing the patients out soon after the fire broke out.
The blaze was so intense that the firefighters had a tough time reaching the second floor.