Maha stunned as another hospital tragedy claims 14 patients

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Palghar (Maharashtra), April 23 (IANS) For the second time in 48 hours, Maharashtra was shocked when at least 14 Covid-19 patients, including five women, perished in a major fire that broke out at a private hospital in Virar town in Palghar district of Maharashtra, around 80 km north of Mumbai, early on Friday, officials said.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Leader of Opposition (Assembly) Devendra Fadnavis and other leaders have expressed grief over the tragedy.
The conflagration was noticed at around 3.15 am in the ICU ward located on the second floor of the four-storeyed Vijay Vallabh Hospital at Tirupati Nagar in Virar.
The Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC) immediately rushed 10 fire-fighting teams and other rescue agencies to the spot to battle the blaze, even as horrified and grieving relatives made a beeline for the hospital.
The fire — caused by a suspected short-circuit in the hospital’s air-conditioning plant — was brought under control and extinguished after two hours at around 5.50 am, said VVMC Chief Fire Officer, Dilip Palav.
While 13 patients perished in the flames that engulfed the ICU, one seriously injured victim died later while around four others undergoing treatment in the ill-fated ICU were rushed to safety before the blaze spread further.
Taking serious note of the incident, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered a probe into the tragedy and announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of all the decreased, besides announcing Rs 1 lakh for all the seriously injured persons.
Besides, the Prime Minister announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of each deceased person and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured in the incident.
The VVMC will also give Rs 5 lakh to the relatives of those who lost their lives in the blaze, said Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope.
Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole, ministers Dada D. Bhuse, Balasaheb Thorat, Eknath Shinde, local legislators of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) Hitendra Thakur and his son Kshitij Thakur, Leader of Opposition (Council) Pravin Darekar, and top police and civic officials rushed to the site to review the rescue operations.
Some patients took discharge from the hospital, while angry relatives of the deceased gheraoed the CEO, Dilip Shah, and held him responsible for the tragedy.
They also demanded to know why didn’t he pay heed to the patients’ complaints about the malfunctioning of the A/C plant and other issues that were also highlighted by the local unit of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
This is the second major tragedy during the pandemic in the past 48 hours after an oxygen gas leak at a Nashik Municipal Corporation-run hospital on April 21 claimed 29 lives so far.

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