Bhubaneswar : At least 20 people, many of whom were being treated in intensive care unit and dialysis ward of SUM Hospital, a Bhubaneswar-based private hospital, were asphyxiated to death Monday evening as a spark from a electrical short cirtcuit turned into a major fire and the resultant smoke spread through the corridors in no time.
The fire left at least 105 of the patients in the hospital gasping for breath and subsequent hospitalisation in nine different hospitals of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
Odisha health secretary Arati Ahuja, who visited SUM hospital Tuesday morning said 14 of the patients were declared brought dead at the government owned Capital Hospital while 5 succumbed to injuries at the private AMRI hospital. An elderly patient died at AIIMS Bhubaneswar Tuesday morning. The deceased included 9 women.
Fire services and police officials said a minor flame was first spotted near the dialysis ward, located on the first floor of the 1000-bed hospital at around 7.30 pm. Though the hospital staff tried to douse using two extinguishers, they gave up after 20 minutes, post which the fire brigade was called in. By then fire and smoke spread between the false ceiling and main ceiling of the second floor. The carbon monoxide gas from the fire travelled through the air-conditioner ducts to the ICU and dialysis wards quickly asphyxiating the hapless patients.
“The air-conditioner ducts turned the hospital into death zone as they helped travel the poisonous gas,” said a hospital staff.