A disaster waiting to happen
The AMRI Hospital authorities did not clear their illegal godown in the building’s basement despite having set themselves a December 5 deadline. Four days later, time ran out for 89 people. HT reports. Tales of helplessness and survival | Locals spot fire, rush to rescue | Did Mamata presence help? | No report of radiation hazard | Mishaps over the years | A tragedy decodedkolkata Updated: Dec 10, 2011 02:49 IST
The AMRI Hospital authorities did not clear their illegal godown in the building’s basement despite having set themselves a December 5 deadline. Four days later, time ran out for 89 people.
On September 5, the hospital authorities had given an undertaking to the state fire services department that all combustible material stacked in the godown would be cleared and the basement turned into a car parking — for which they had originally obtained permission — again.
"The basement of the hospital was originally meant for car parking. But according to the complaint of the fire brigade, the entire area was stacked with combustible items such as portable gas cylinders and PVC wire cables. The fire brigade asked them to clear the items," said Damayanti Sen, joint commissioner of police, crime.
In their affidavit, the hospital had sought 90 days to clean up their act. According to an official source, the hospital authorities could now be probed for wilful neglect.
“But nothing was done within the stipulated time.”
Deepak Sarkar, the deputy director of fire prevention wing of the state fire service department, has lodged a police complaint against hospital authorities. The fire department has also found lapses in the hospital’s fire fighting system.
Sen said, “According to the complaint of the fire brigade, the fire alarm and the other systems were not working properly.” What’s more, the hospital’s staff are now finding themselves facing an uncomfortable query from people — where were the doctors and nurses when disaster struck?
The hospital authorities have confirmed the death of three nurses and this has triggered talk of the hospital staff having fled at the first sign of fire. Locals said after rescuing some patients they tried to get in touch with their doctors (calling up numbers on the hospital’s display board), but found the mobile phones switched off.