Three patients died of asphyxiation at the government-run Kilpauk Medical College Hospital here after a fire broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on Saturday morning.
Krishna Bai (72), Tamil Arasi (45) and Nandha Gopal (51) died due to the fire caused by a short circuit, which was noticed in the split air-conditioning unit of the ICU on the ground floor.
"Around 5am, smoke was noticed in the ICU, located on the ground floor," the hospital's medical superintendent R Sukumar said.
Five others in the ICU were immediately shifted to different wards, hospital sources said.
Two fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the fire. The thick smoke reduced the visibility to near zero.
Hospital officials said Tamil Selvi and Krishna Bai died soon after the accident, while Nandagopal breathed his last later.
Expressing sorrow over the incident, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa said she had ordered the authorities concerned to take dequate preventive measures in all government hospitals to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
She also announced a compensation of R2 lakh each from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund to the next of the kin of those killed.
Tamil Nadu information, law, and courts minister G Senthamizhan also visited the hospital immediately after the incident.
Meanwhile, hospital's medical superintendent said the hospital has constituted a special team of doctors to take care of other ICU patients.
The hospital has also ordered a probe into the accident.