Ten newborns killed in Maharashtra hospital fire; 5 lakhs ex-gratia offered to families

In a fire that broke out at the Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra, there have been ten fatalities of newborn babies. The massive fire was located in the Sick Newborn Care Unit of the hospital. Seven other infants were rescued and saved.

Dr Promod Khandate, Civil Surgeon of Bhandara District General Hospital, said 17 children were admitted to the Sick Newborn Care Unit while speaking to India Today TV.

The cause of the fire is not known but the hospital administration speculates it was an electrical short-circuit.

“In the wee hours of Saturday, a nurse noticed smoke emanating from this ward and altered doctors. The hospital staff tried their best to save the children. Ten children have died, seven are safe.”

BS Koshyari, Maharashtra Governor expressed his condolences to the families whose newborns did not survive. He said, “Extremely saddened to know about the most tragic incident of fire at Bhandara Civil Hospital. I convey my deepest condolences to the families of the innocent children who lost their lives.”

Ajit Pawar, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister, has ordered safety auditing of infant wards at all hospitals in the state.

Devendra Fadnavis, former Maharashtra CM and BJP leader, demanded “strict action” against those responsible for this tragedy. “I demand an immediate probe in the fire incident at Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) of Bhandara District General Hospital. I have also asked the government to take strict action against the culprits.”

Rajesh Tope, Maharashtra health minister has assured that the tragedy will be “fully investigated.” In a tweet originally written in Marathi, he said, “The death of newborns in a fire at the child care unit of the district hospital in Bhandara is very sad and distressing. We share the grief of this family. The incident will be fully investigated. The chief minister has also spoken to the Bhandara Collector and the Superintendent of Police and they have been directed to investigate.”

The Maharashtra government is set forth to give an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to each of the families of the 10 newborns killed in the fire, said Rajesh Tope.

District Collector, Sandip Kadam said, “Fire that broke out around 2 AM claimed lives of 10 children. But we have been able to save 7 children.  A technical committee will investigate to ascertain the reason behind the fire.”

President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his grief overhearing the news, in a tweet, “I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of 10 infants in Maharashtra’s Bhandara. I express my heartfelt condolences to the parents who have lost their children in this heart-wrenching tragedy.”

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