Fire at a hospital’s ICU ward in Virar, Mumbai, claims 15 lives

Published : April 24, 2021 17:45 IST

The fire-devastated ICU ward of the Vijay Vallabh Hospital at Virar, Mumbai, on April 23. Photo: Rajanish Kakade/AP

Fifteen people, including six women suffering from COVID-19, died in a fire which engulfed an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital in Virar, a northern suburb of Mumbai, on April 23. The tragedy came two days after 24 COVID-19 patients died when the oxygen supply was disrupted at a hospital in Nashik.

Maharashtra is reeling from a deepening crisis because of an alarming surge in COVID-19 numbers. With hospitals overburdened and facing a shortage of beds, medicines and, critically, oxygen supply, the State is witnessing a infrastructure breakdown. Therefore, a government official said on condition of anonymity, there will be a rise in such incidents.

Photographs of the ICU at the Vijay Vallabh Hospital where the fire broke out showed a completely gutted ward, with charred beds and melted medical equipment. Initial reports suggest that the central air conditioning unit began to emit sparks, ultimately leading to a massive blast. As the ICU did not have mandatory fire protection systems in place such as an automatic sprinkler, the fire could not be controlled, said a police statement.

The police took cognisance of the accusation of the families of the deceased who said there was no doctor on duty and that only a skeletal staff of nurses were present in the ICU. The hospital management, doctors and staff have been booked for negligence and culpable homicide not amounting to murder. So far no arrests have been made.

The State government and the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation have each announced Rs. 5 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased and Rs.1 lakh to the injured. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered a probe into the incident, said a State government media release.