odisha fire

Rescue operations underway at Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital where a fire broke out killing 22 people in Bhubaneswar on Oct. 18. (IANS)

BHUBANESWAR – At least 22 persons were killed and several injured after a major fire broke out in the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital in Bhubaneswar on Oct. 17 evening.

While the government-run Capital Hospital's officials confirmed receiving 14 bodies, eight bodies were received by the AMRI Hospital in Bhubaneswar.

"A total of 22 persons have died. While 14 have died in Capital Hospital, eight died in AMRI Hospitals," said Akhila Bihari Ota, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central).

Over 50 patients were rescued from the dialysis ward and the adjoining Intensive Care Unit, the officials said.

The rescued patients were shifted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhubaneswar and other hospitals, said Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who visited Capital hospital to oversee treatment of evacuated patients, ordered a Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) level probe into the whole incident.

Expressing his grief over the incident, he said free treatment would be provided to the injured persons.

Medical Superintendent Pusparaj Samantasinghar was among the four officials of Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital who were arrested Oct. 17 in connection with the fire tragedy.

Police also arrested ex-Executive Engineer Amulya Kumar Sahu, Fire Safety Officer Santosh Das and retired Junior Engineer Malay Kumar Sahu.

Their arrest on charges of criminal negligence, including culpable homicide, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and negligence with regard to fire safety, is based on an FIR filed by Fire Services Department, Police Commissioner Y.B. Khurania said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed deep anguish over the deaths in Odisha capital Bhubaneswar.

"Deeply anguished by the loss of lives in the hospital fire in Odisha. The tragedy is mind-numbing. My thoughts are with bereaved families," he tweeted.

Odisha Health Secretary Arti Ahuja said an inquiry committee has been constituted to inquire into the fire and whether the hospital authorities had taken safety measures or not.

The probe team comprises the Khurda Collector, Director of Medical Education and Training and the District Fire Officer, she added.

The cause of the fire is said to be an electrical short-circuit. The fire broke out in the intensive care unit of the dialysis ward of the hospital, said sources.

About seven fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the fire.

Fire Service Director General Binay Behera said fire personnel were engaged to control the fire and carry out rescue operation.

"Rescuing the patients and those present in the hospital is our priority. We are yet to assess the damage and ascertain the source of the fire," Behera said.

Modi said he spoke to Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda and asked him to facilitate transfer of all the injured to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhubaneswar. "Hope the injured recover quickly," Modi said.

Nadda tweeted: "Deeply saddened by the fire incident in Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar. My condolences rest with the bereaved families."

Talking to CNN News 18, Nadda said: "We have told the State Government that whatever help is required, will be extended by the Central Government. If there is any situation where the patients need our help we are ready for that too.

The government has set up a helpline number: 9439991226.

Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan informed that he spoke to Odisha Health Minister and offered all possible help to deal with this tragic incident.

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