Two Kerala nurses lost their lives while trying to rescue patients in the female general ward of Kolkata's AMRI Hospital as a devastating fire engulfed the building on Friday. Ninety-one people were killed in the inferno.
Remya and Vineetha, both aged 22, managed to rescue eight of the nine patients in the smoke-filled ward even as doctors and others fled to safety.
"They succumbed when they had gone to save the ninth patient who had suffered a fracture," said Sumini, the hospital's deputy nursing superintendent.
Another nurse, Sandhya, is seriously injured.
Minutes after the fire broke out, Remya had called her mother to tell her that the hospital was filled with thick smoke and that she was finding it difficult to breathe.
When TV channels started showing the visuals of the inferno, Remya's mother, Usha, realised that her daughter's life was in danger. As she waited anxiously to hear from her daughter, her phone rang. The voice at the other end informed her that her daughter had perished in the fire.
Both Remya and Vineetha hailed from Kottayam district and were distant cousins. They had come to Kolkata in the hope of a better livelihood as their families largely depended on them to make ends meet.
More than 80% nurses of the 325 nurses at AMRI hailed from Kerala. "Remya and Vineetha were paid a salary of Rs 7,000 each besides accommodation. In Kerala a beginner can only expect around Rs 3,000 a month," said Marian Jose. Jose, also a Keralite, works as a ward boy in Kolkata's Medicos Hospital.