In the wee hours of January 9, 10 children admitted in the Sick Newborn Care ward of Bhandara District hospital in Maharashtra died due to a fire that broke out after a short circuit occurred in the ward.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope in a video address mentioned that the hospital authorities managed to shift seven children out of the ward but could not save ten. Three of the children succumbed to burns while the other seven suffocated to death, Tope added.
The Maharashtra government has extended ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh to the parents of the deceased children.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi were some of the political figures who took to Twitter to express their condolences.
When the fire broke out, the ward had over 17 newborns who were being treated for different ailments. When asked the cause of the fire, Dr. Pramod Khandate, civil surgeon at the district hospital told BOOM that the reason for the short circuit is currently being analysed.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has requested for an inquiry committee to immediately look into the matter and ascertain the cause of the short circuit. Tope added that after the inquiry, the ones responsible will be duly punished and all measures will be put into place to ascertain that such an incident does not occur again.
"At around 1:30 am, a fire broke out in this ward and the on-duty nurses and ward boys were quick to take action and started shifting the newborns in to the next ward. The managed to successfully transfer seven children but unfortunately ten others died," Tope described.
In recent months, fires have also broken in the COVID-19 wards of several hospitals in Vadodara, Rajkot and Gwalior.
This is not the first case of infant and newborn deaths in hospitals. JK Lon hospital in Kota has reported infant deaths in both December 2019 and 2020.