Kolkata, 9 December 2011. At least 25 persons, including critically ill patients, are feared dead in a devastating fire at a private hospital in Kolkata.
Twenty-five fire engines are trying to combat the situation. While the fire that has been doused, thick smoke is still billowing out of the multi-storeyed AMRI speciality hospital in Dhakuria.
The fire broke out in the “early hours” at the basement where hospital chemicals and medical waste were stocked.
Fire service minister Javed Khan said that 80 per cent of the patients have been removed to other facilities.
46 bodies removed from amri hospital, the additional director general , west bengal fire services said. The list included patients and hospital staff.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who visited the hospital, however, said 55 bodies have been recovered, as noxious fumes are still emanating out of the basement and engulfing the crowded neighbourhood.
Milling crowds, of patients’ hapless relatives and curious passersby are hampering rescue operations. Some firemen have also been reportedly fallen ill.
Meanwhile, the bodies of the victims were being sent to the state-run SSKM hospital. Police sources said that at least 40 bodies have arrived at the SSKM mortuary and now bodies are being diverted to other state hospitals. SSKM hospital is the biggest hospital in Kolkata.
Six hours after the worst such tragedy, there has been no official communication from AMRI hospital so far.
Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury, The Hindu’s photographer who was covering the accident said, some locals broke open the window panes and rescued some patients.
Angry relatives and locals vandalised the receprion of the hospital, claiming that it failed to adhere to the safety norms.
The death toll could go up to 50, predicted Mr. Roy Chowdhury.
Personnel of the Disaster Management Group reached the scene and were assisting in the operations. Commissioner of Kolkata Police R.K. Pachnanda too rushed to the spot.
Firemen smashed sealed windows to let the smoke out of the the annexe building of AMRI Hospital where a fire raged as paramedics rushed to revive patients evacuated out of the critical care units.
As soon as a patient was brought out of the building, families watching in horror rushed to ascertain if they could identify him, a PTI correspondent on the scene said.
Patients are being moved to the state-run SSKM hospital for further treatment.