United Hospital asked to pay each of fire victims Tk 30 lakh

M Moneruzzaman | Published: 12:50, Jul 15,2020 | Updated: 01:20, Jul 16,2020


Personnel of government agencies on May 28 inspect the damaged COVID-19 isolation unit of the United Hospital burnt in fire previous night, leaving five people killed. — Sourav Lasker

The High Court on Wednesday asked the United Hospital authorities to initially pay Tk 30 lakh to each of the families of four victims of a fire incident which killed five patients undergoing treatment at the hospital’s isolation unit temporarily set up to treat COVID-19 patients.

The final amount of compensation would be set by the regular court after it resumes it works, said lawyers.

The online bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim set the amount for the time being after the hospital authorities and the families failed to reach an amicable settlement and asked the hospital to make the payment within 15 days after receiving the copy of the order.

The online bench also said that it would send to the regular court for disposal of four writ petitions filed by four victims — Khodeza Begum’s son md Alamgir, Reazul Alam’s wife Fowzia Akter, Mahbub Elahi Chowdhury’s son Anan Chowdhury, and Bernard Anthony Paul’s son-in-law Ronald Micky Gomes — seeking Tk 1 crore as damage for death of their respective family members.

Family members of Monir Hossain did not file any writ petition as the hospital paid them Tk 20 lakh, said Mustafizur Rahman Khan, one of the hospital’s lawyers, told New Age.

The court rejected hospital’s proposal to pay Tk 20 lakh or Tk 25 lakh to each families.

‘We will consider filing an appeal against the order after getting a copy of the directive,’ Mustafiz said.

The five patients died after a fire broke out in an air-conditioner installed on the doctors’ room in a temporarily constructed tin-shed building connected to the COVID19 isolation unit of the hospital.

The police, Fire Service and Civil Defence department and the Rajdhani Unnayan Katripakhaya in separate investigation reports submitted to the bench earlier found prima-facie evidence that the sheer negligence of the United Hospital authorities was responsible for the loss of lives on May 27.

Police headquarters said that five patients died because of sheer negligence of the hospital authorities as none came forward to extinguish the fire and the fire extinguishers were expired.

Fire Service said that fire-fighters reached the spot at about 9:40pm, five minutes after the fire broke out.

The Fire Service said that there were a total of 16 fire extinguishers in the hospital, but three of those expired in April.

The hospital employees assigned to control fire failed to put out the flames as 11 of them were on holidays.

Fire Service also added that the hospital officials also failed to rescue patients before the fire reached the unit from the doctors’ room.

Rajuk said that the hospital had no permission to construct the tin-shed building where the fire broke out.

The hospital authorities said that they could not extinguish the fire immediately as many of their doctors and employees were on leaves for Eid-ul-Fitr celebration or COVID19 infection.

A criminal case that was filed on June 3 against the hospital authorities for alleged negligence is still pending.

Aneek R Haque, Hassan MS Azim and Muntasir Uddin Ahmed with Niaz Mahboob appeared for compensation claimants while Rokanuddin Mahmud from Switzerland, Tanjib-ul Alam from London and Mustafizur Rahman in Dhaka defended the hospital.

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