Infant dies in Thane ambulance fire

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Thane
  • Updated: Dec 12, 2015 01:12 IST
The oxygen cylinder inside the ambulance exploded, engulfing the vehicle in flames, with the infant still in it. (HT )

A day-old baby was charred after a cylinder exploded inside the ambulance in which he was placed, outside a Thane hospital early on Friday. A doctor and nurse accompanying the child jumped out when the fire broke out, but left the baby behind.

The fire broke out after the doctor switched on the oxygen supply for the ventilator. The doctor, Bhavdeep Garg, and nurse Rejo Chacko managed to jump out minutes before the cylinder exploded.

Within minutes, the vehicle was engulfed in flames, as the child’s father, Manish Jain, and other relatives looked on helplessly. “It happened in just a few seconds. We were outside the hospital,” said a family member, not wishing to be named.

“As the doctor started the oxygen supply, we noticed a spark. Before we realised, the entire vehicle had caught fire. Everyone was running and no one realised the baby was still inside the ambulance,” he said.

The baby was born on Thursday at a private hospital in Bhiwandi, but developed medical complications, after which he was shifted to Thane’s Vedant Hospital. When his condition did not improve, his parents decided to take him to Surya Hospital in Santacruz, which sent an ambulance with the doctor and nurse at 1am on Friday.

The baby was put on ventilator support inside the ambulance.

“When the oxygen cylinder was switched on, there was a spark. But the ambulance driver, Ganesh Shinde, did not notice it and started the vehicle. The fire broke out in a few seconds,” said Ashok Jain, Manish’s brother-in-law, who was standing outside.

As soon as Garg and Chacko saw the fire, they jumped out, leaving the baby behind. Seconds later, there was a loud explosion. The ambulance and another one parked nearby were completely burnt, sources said.

“We got a call at 1.15am about the fire. When we reached the hospital three minutes later, we saw the two ambulances were charred. Prima facie, it looks like the oxygen cylinder had exploded,” said Arvind Mandke, the chief fire officer.

The doctor and the nurse suffered burns and were admitted to Thane’s civic hospital. “They were discharged in a few hours,” said Dr Kempi Patil from the hospital.

“We are waiting for the report. The child was being shifted to Surya Hospital which had sent the ambulance. We are also investigating the cause of the fire,” said VB Chandanshive, the assistant commissioner of police. Surya Hospital did not respond to HT’s queries.

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