At least 13 coronavirus patients who were in the ICU have died in a fire at a hospital in Maharashtra’s Virar, about 70 km from state capital Mumbai.
“Around 90 patients were admitted to the hospital at the time of the incident,” Dilip Shah, CEO, Vijay Vallabh Hospital, told reporters this morning.
Visuals captured the chaos that unfolded after the incident as medical staff moved out other patients to safety. Family members and friends of patients, waiting outside, said they had rushed to the hospital as soon as they got the news.
The incident comes as Maharashtra battles the second wave of coronavirus and an unprecedented surge in Covid infections. Over 67,000 fresh cases have been reported since yesterday. With a total caseload of over 40 lakh infections, Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in the country by the pandemic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the incident was “tragic”. “Condolences to those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover soon,” his office quoted him as saying in a tweet.
In a statement, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s office said he “has expressed sorrow” over the deaths. “He has directed that other patients undergoing treatment should not be harmed and should be relocated immediately. After learning about the fire, the Chief Minister himself has spoken to the concerned officials and asked them to first of all give priority to extinguishing the fire completely and ensure that treatment on other patients continues,” the official statement read.