A hotel being used as a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) facility in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada city where a fire killed 10 patients violated safety standards, a senior fire department official said on Sunday.
The fire was reported from Swarna Palace, being used as a care centre for Covid-19 patients by Ramesh Hospitals, early on Sunday.
“The alarm bell didn’t ring at the time of the accident and there was a delay in opening the back door,” Jairam Naik, the fire safety director, said. “Investigation has been initiated and there will be action on hotel management after it,” Naik added.
An electric short circuit is said to have caused the fire, according to officials. Staff noticed flames from the first floor at around 5am and it spread to the third to fifth floors quickly. Patients were on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the hotel. There were about 30 patients of the coronavirus disease and 10 medical personnel at the time of the accident.
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Andhra Pradesh’s chief minister, said he spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the accident. “We are ensuring that things are under control. An ex gratia of Rs 50 lakh has been announced to the families of the deceased. My thoughts & prayers are with the bereaved families & the injured,” he added.
The Prime Minister had also condoled the deaths. “Anguished by the fire at a Covid Centre in Vijayawada. My thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones. I pray that the injured recover as soon as possible. Discussed the prevailing situation with AP CM @ysjagan Ji and assured all possible support,” he had tweeted.
Jagan Reddy has also directed officials to take up rescue measures and admit the injured to nearby hospitals. He also instructed officials to conduct an inquiry into the accident.
Rescuers brought 17 Covid-19 patients to safely using ladders even as two staff members, including a security guard, jumped from the second and third floors of the hotel after the fire.
On Thursday, eight people were killed in a fire in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a private Covid-19 designated hospital in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad.