At least 18 people, including two healthcare workers were killed in a fire at a COVID-19 hospital in the western Indian state of Gujarat late on Friday night, officials said on Saturday, in the country’s latest deadly hospital accident.
The fire started around midnight in the intensive care ward of the Patel Welfare Hospital, a designated COVID-19 facility, in Bharuch city, 115 miles (185 km) south of the state’s main commercial city, Ahmedabad.
“Sixteen patients and two staff members have died in the fire. Twelve of them died due to fire and smoke,” said R.V. Chudasama, a superintendent of police in Bharuch.
“Preliminary investigation shows the fire was caused because of a short circuit,” he said.
Local news channels showed footage of a hospital ward completely destroyed in the fire.
“There was a lot of chaos because of the scale of the fire … hospital staff rushed my family members out from the ward and we used our car to take them to another hospital,” said Parth Gandhi, whose two relatives, both COVID-19 patients escaped the disaster.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet he was “pained by the loss of lives due to a fire at a hospital in Bharuch.”
India’s healthcare system is struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis, which has killed 211,853 people and infected more than 19 million, according to health ministry data on Saturday.
A dozen people were reported killed after a fire in a hospital treating COVID-19 patients in a suburb of Mumbai on April 23. Earlier 22 patients died at a public hospital in Maharashtra where Mumbai is located when oxygen supplies ran out due to a leaking tank.