Ten newborn babies died after a fire broke out in the Special Newborn Care Unit of a hospital in Bhandara district in Maharashtra in the early hours of Saturday. All the infants were between a month and three months old. There were 17 babies in the unit and seven were rescued.
A doctor said a nurse first noticed smoke coming out from the neonatal section of the hospital and alerted doctors and other staff who reached there in five minutes.
Fire brigade personnel rescued seven babies from the ‘inbound ward’ of the unit but could not save the 10 other babies, said a report.
The cause of the fire in the four-storeyed building is not known.
Health minister of Maharashtra Rajesh Tope has assured that the tragedy in Bhandara will be “fully investigated”.
Expressing his grief, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted:
“Heart-wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives. My thoughts are with all the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover as early as possible.”
Home Minister Amit Shah said: “The fire accident in Bhandara district hospital, Maharashtra is very unfortunate. I am pained beyond words. My thoughts and condolences are with bereaved families. May God give them the strength to bear this irreparable loss.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also tweeted: “The unfortunate incident of fire at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra is extremely tragic. My condolences to the families of the children who lost their lives. I appeal to Maha Govt to provide every possible assistance to the families of the injured & deceased.”
The government of Maharashtra has announced an ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh each to the families of the 10 newborns.
Bhandara district civil surgeon Dr Pramod Khandate said, “Most newborns died due to suffocation. One baby had fatal burn injuries, and two others had minor burns injuries. The rest inhaled a lot of smoke.”
It wasn’t immediately known how many were boys and how many were girls.