There was no emergency exit or proper fire safety equipment at the hospital in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, where five patients and three staff members died in a massive fire this afternoon. Sources said the 30-bed hospital was possibly started in 2020 during the first wave of COVID-19, when the authorities were focused on increasing health infrastructure.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered a high-level inquiry into the fire, which will be conducted by a four-member panel headed by the Jabalpur Divisional Commissioner B Chandrashekhar.
The blaze at the New Life Multi-Specialty hospital started around 2.45 pm, possibly due to a short circuit in the generator on the ground floor. It is suspected to have happened during the electricity switchover following a power cut, sources said, and soon spread to other parts of the hospital building.
Sources said the hospital had only one gate — and that too very narrow. The oxygen cylinders inside made the situation worse.
Eight persons were either burnt alive or choked to death. Another eight people who suffered burns of various degrees have been admitted at a nearby private hospital and the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College.
Two survivors in critical condition are at the Intensive Care Unit of the Medical College.
The Chief Minister has announced an immediate payment of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those who died. An amount Rs 50,000 will be given to those injured in the fire.
“Our priority right now is to save those injured in the inferno, but a thorough probe will be conducted by the panel headed by the Jabalpur Divisional Commissioner,” the Chief Minister said.
“The probe will ascertain the reasons behind the blaze and those found responsible for any lapses will have to face the strictest action,” Mr Chouhan added.
“It was a massive fire, and our teams rescued all the people trapped inside the hospital,” Akhilesh Gaur, Jabalpur’s Chief Superintendent of police said.
The eight people who died include Vir Singh (30), Subhati Verma (24), Mahima Jatav (23) – all three being hospital staff – Durgesh Singh (42), Tanmay Vishwakarma (19), Anusuiya Yadav (55), Sonu Yadav (26) and Sangeeta Yadav.