At least 11 people died in a fire that broke out at a hotel that turned into COVID-19 care centre by a private hospital at Vijayawada of Andhra Pradesh in India early Sunday, reports the Times of India.
About 50 COVID-19 patients were being treated at the centre when the accident took place. Electric short circuit is said to be the cause of the fire, according to preliminary reports.
Swarna Palace hotel, situated on Eluru Road, was taken on lease by Ramesh Hospital to treat COVID-19 patients.
About 50 patients were staying at Swarna Palace while about 10 para medical staff were assisting them at the time of the fire incident.
Most of the deaths took place due to suffocation from smoke, officials concerned said.
As COVID-19 patients were already suffering from respiratory problems, the thick smoke further aggravated their conditions.
Prime minister Narendra Modi expressed deep shock at the incident and assured that the state administration would be given all support.
According to the Vijayawada city police commissioner B Srinivasulu, the fire broke out on the ground floor of the centre and it rapidly spread to the first floor.
Srinivasulu said that they had rescued at least 30 people and the fire was brought under control within 25 minutes.
He said that the control room received an SOS at about 5:15am.
Quick response teams of the fire control room rushed to the spot and started the rescue operation, he said. The patients were brought out using ladders as the stair cases were engulfed by the fire and there was no external fire exit.
The rescued patients were rushed to other hospitals in special ambulances.
Chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy expressed shock over the incident and directed the officials to extend all possible help to the victims. He ordered a probe into the incident and asked the officials to submit a report.
Krishna district collector A Md Imtiaz and endowments minister Vellampalli Srinivas visited the spot.
Home minister Amit Shah prayed for speedy recovery of those injured in the incident.
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