Probe opens after hospital fire kills 5 at COVID-19 unit in Bangladesh

Tapos Kanti Das | Published: 23:08, May 27,2020 | Updated: 04:38, May 29,2020


Personnel of government agencies on Thursday inspect the damaged COVID-19 isolation unit of the United Hospital burnt in the Wednesday night fire, leaving five people killed. — Sourav Lasker

The fire at United Hospital in Dhaka on Wednesday evening killed five patients who were under treatment at the hospital’s COVID-19 unit.

The victims are Riazul Alam, 45, Khodeza Begum, 70, Bherun Anthony Paul, 74, Md Monir Hossain, 75 and Md Mahabub, 50, said a United Hospital statement.

It said that the fire broke out at about 9:30pm at the COVID-19 isolation unit, located outside the United Hospital’s main building, and it engulfed the whole building in a couple of minutes.

It said that the fire might have originated from short circuit and the hospital instantly called the firefighters who rushed to the spot and put out the fire within 15 to 20 minutes with the combined initiatives of the hospital’s fire extinguishing system and fire service personnel’s efforts.

Fire Service control room duty officer Russell Shikder, however, said that three firefighting units, being informed about at 9:55pm, rushed to the spot and doused the fire at about 10:25pm.

He said that the firefighters recovered five bodies.

The officer said that the Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters formed a five-member investigation committee led by deputy director Debasis Bardhan.

A Criminal Investigation Department’s crime scene department visited the spot and collected evidences, police sources said.

After visiting the spot, Dhaka North city mayor Md Atiqul Islam said that the extended unit had 12 fire extinguishers of which eight were date expired and the hospital had no dedicated team to tackle fire-like situation.

He warned of taking action against United Hospital, if the probe committee found any negligence of the authorities.

Fire Service deputy director Debasis Bardhan while visiting the spot said that they suspected that the fire might have been occurred due to any glitch in electric system.

He said that the hospital had probably set up the unit without ensuring proper building safety measures after getting government approval.

He said that the temporary unit’s partitions were made of highly inflammable particle board-type materials and that the celling was also inflammable.

Generally no carer stay with COVID-19 patients, and when the fire broke out, the five patients could not go out of the unit by themselves, Debasish explained.

Gulshan police said that the fire quickly raged through the structure as the materials used for the construction and the hand sanitiser kept inside was highly flammable.

Gulshan Police Station duty officer sub-inspector Sinthia Akter said that United Hospital director (administration) Mainul Hossain lodged an unnatural death case in connection with the death of five patients in fire.

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