Bhubaneswar hospital fire: 3 employees suspended, death toll reaches 20

  • K Mohanty, Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
  • Updated: Oct 18, 2016 19:06 IST
Rescue work underway at the SUM Medical College Hospital in Bhubaneshwar where a fire broke out on Monday. (HT )

Three employees were suspended at SUM Hospital in Bhuabneswar’s Khandagiri area after a major fire broke out that killed 20 people and injured 105.

Poisonous carbon monoxide fumes spread through air-conditioner ducts following an electric short-circuit in the hospital, sources said on Tuesday.

The flare at SUM Hospital in Khandagiri area late on Monday began near the dialysis ward and quickly spread to others floors, filling the corridors with smoke.

Most of the deaths — authorities earlier said the figure was 22 — happened in the ICU and dialysis wards, according to officials with fire service and police.

The blaze, which was detected around 7.30 pm, suffocated at least 105 in the hospital. They were admitted to private and government hospitals in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

SUM hospital staff tried to put off the fire using extinguishers before the fire brigade reached. “Those in the closed ICU died quickly as smoke filled in,” said a doctor with the decade-old hospital.

As the fire and fumes spread through the corridors, friends and relatives attending patients carried them off their beds. “The doctors ran away, while the paramedical staff kept us assuring that things would be under control. It was a false promise,” said Manaswini Behera, whose husband was admitted in the hospital.

The fire brigade men broke through the windows to evacuate the patients through slings and skylift. It took six fire engines and three hours to bring the blaze under control.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik visited the injured patients and said the state will take care of their treatment. He has ordered an inquiry by an RDC level official.

State health secretary Arati Ahuja, too, visited the hospital. “Fourteen of the patients were declared brought dead at Capital Hospital, while five succumbed to injuries at another private hospital to where they were shifted,” he told HT.

An old patient, who was shifted to AIIMS Bhubaneswar, died on Tuesday morning. The deceased included nine women.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences and said that petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan will go to Bhubaneswar.

SUM, founded in 2005, has a certificate of the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers, validating its fire safety system. Owned by Manoj Nayak, an education baron with TV channels and newspapers, SUM is one of Odisha’s few large private hospitals.

The hospital officials suspended three electricians. More action will follow, dean Jyotiranjan Dash said, patients who left on Tuesday evening amid the fire were returning to their beds.

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