Ten newborn babies on Saturday died in a fire at the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra.
The fire reportedly broke out at around 1.30 a.m. Of the 17 babies, seven were rescued.
“At around 1.30 a.m., a staff nurse found smoke in the out-born ward of the hospital. When she went into the room, the smoke engulfed her and she could not see anything. She informed the higher authorities and all of us reached there,” said Pramod Khandate, Chief Surgeon, Bhandara District General Hospital.
“As far as possible, we personally took the babies out and, in the next five minutes, the fire brigade reached there. The fire brigade rescued seven babies who were in the in-born ward but 10 babies in the out-born ward could not be saved,” he said.
The babies in the in-born ward who were rescued were those that were born in the hospital and needed special care in the ICU, while the 10 babies that could not be saved in out-born were those born in other hospitals in the taluka and were brought in for special care due to birth complications.
The 10 babies were identified by family members and further procedures have been initiated.
“The rescued babies are doing good and shifted to another room. We also shifted the patients of the nearby wards — ICU, labour room and dialysis patients — to another room,” Mr. Khandate said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered a probe into the incident.
Deputy CM Ajit Pawar has ordered a safety audit of new born care units of all government hospitals in the State.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his grief at the incident.
“Heart-wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives. My thoughts are with all the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover as early as possible,” Mr. Modi tweeted.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too took to Twitter to convey his condolences to the families of the children.
“The unfortunate incident of fire at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra is extremely tragic. My condolences to the families of the children who lost their lives. I appeal to Maha Govt to provide every possible assistance to the families of the injured & deceased,” Mr. Gandhi wrote.
Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted, “The fire accident in Bhandara district hospital, Maharashtra is very unfortunate. I am pained beyond words. My thoughts and condolences are with bereaved families. May God give them the strength to bear this irreparable loss.”