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14 Covid patients in ICU killed in Maharashtra hospital fire

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the deaths in Palghar district's Virar "tragic".

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Virar, Maharashtra: Fourteen coronavirus patients who were in the ICU have died in a fire at a hospital in Maharashtra’s Virar, about 70 km from state capital Mumbai, the NDTV reported.

The fire broke out at around 3 am in the ICU on the second floor of the four-storeyed Vijay Vallabh Hospital, an official said. “Around 90 patients were admitted to the hospital at the time of the incident,” Dilip Shah, CEO, Vijay Vallabh Hospital, told reporters this morning.

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Distressing visuals showed people mourning their loved ones. Chaos unfolded soon after the incident as friends and family members gathered outside the hospital, waiting for an update about the patients.

The incident comes as Maharashtra battles the second wave of coronavirus and an unprecedented surge in Covid infections. Over 67,000 fresh cases have been reported since yesterday. With a total caseload of over 40 lakh infections, Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in the country by the pandemic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the deaths in Palghar district’s Virar “tragic”. “Condolences to those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover soon,” his office quoted him as saying in a tweet.

In a statement, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s office said he “has expressed sorrow” over the deaths. “He has directed that other patients undergoing treatment should not be harmed and should be relocated immediately. After learning about the fire, the Chief Minister himself has spoken to the concerned officials and asked them to first of all give priority to extinguishing the fire completely and ensure that treatment on other patients continues,” the official statement read.

“The cause of the fire should be properly investigated. He also directed the administration to immediately inquire whether the fire safety was adequate and whether it was a private hospital,” it added.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said: “In today’s meeting with the Prime Minister, we will talk about oxygen, Remdesivir, adequate quantity of vaccines for the state…also the Virar fire incident, it is not national news.”

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