10 COVID-19 patients dead in fire at Mumbai mall hospital

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(Eds: updates info) Mumbai, Mar 26 (PTI) Ten coronavirus patients died after a fire broke out at a Mumbai mall hospital where COVID- 19 patients were being treated, a police official said on Friday.

'All the 10 people who died in the blaze were coronavirus patients,' DCP Prashant Kadam told PTI.

When the death toll was two, the hospital had come out with a statement saying both were coronavirus patients who were already dead from the disease when the fire broke out. It had added that there was no death due to the fire. It has not commented as yet about the remaining eight deaths.

There is no word yet from civic and hospital officials on how many people were evacuated and how many of them were coronavirus patients.

The fire broke out at the Sunrise Hospital in the Dreams Mall building in Bhandup area around midnight, the official said. The hospital is situated on the top floor of the four-storeyed mall building.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who visited the spot in the afternoon said strict action will be taken against those found responsible for the fire.

Thackeray apologised to the families of the victims and announced Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each deceased.

The blaze comes amid an upsurge in coronavirus cases in Mumbai. On Thursday, the city logged 5,504 new infections, the highest daily count since the pandemic began.

The cause of the fire has not been ascertained yet, BMC control room sources said.

Thirty fire engines, 20 water tankers and ambulances were rushed to the spot. Fire fighting operation is underway, the official said.

Patients who were evacuated were shifted to another hospital, the official said.

Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar who visited the site expressed surprise that a hospital was operating inside the mall.

'I have seen a hospital at a mall for the first time,' the mayor said, adding action will be taken if irregularities were found in allowing the facility to operate there.

The hospital in a statement said, 'There was a fire on the first floor of Dreams Mall, Bhandup and the smoke reached up to the Sunrise Hospital located on the top floor. When fire alarms sounded, all patients were safely evacuated to the fire refuge area as the smoke was reaching the hospital.' A civic official said the BMC had issued notice to the mall last year for allegedly flouting fire safety norms.

Former NCP MP Sanjay Patil said he had written to the BMC commissioner last year drawing the civic body's attention to the alleged flouting of fire safety norms there.

'Pained by the loss of lives due to a fire at a hospital in Mumbai. I pray that the injured recover soon,' Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

'Pained by the loss of lives in a fire incident at a COVID care hospital in Mumbai, Maharashtra. My condolences to the bereaved families & prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured,' Vice President Venkaiah Naidu tweeted. PTI ZA ND VT VT VT