9 COVID-19 patients dead in fire at Mumbai hospital

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Nine coronavirus patients died in a fire at a COVID-19 hospital in a Mumbai mall on Friday, civic officials said, adding more misery to a state that has emerged as the hardest hit in the pandemic.

All nine patients died due to suffocation as a result of the fire while two other patients at the hospital had already died due to coronavirus before the fire broke out, the BMC said in a statement.

The hospital, however, claimed that there was no casualty due to the fire.

“All the patients were shifted alive but there were a few patients on ventilator and were extremely critical. We believe the casualties are not due to the fire, but either in transit or at other hospitals (where they were shifted), it said.

The hospital had earlier said two deceased were coronavirus patients who were already dead from the disease when the fire broke out. The BMC also confirmed this claim.

The fire broke out at the Sunrise Hospital in the Dreams Mall building in Bhandup area around midnight, a BMC official said. The hospital is situated on the top floor of the four-storeyed building.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who visited the spot apologised to the families of the victims and announced Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each deceased.

Thackeray said permission was granted to the hospital last year to run a COVID-19 centre temporarily.

The blaze comes amid an upsurge in coronavirus cases in Mumbai. On Friday, the city logged 5,513 new infections, the highest daily count since the pandemic began.

Altogether 78 patients were being treated at the 107- bed hospital when the fire broke out, the BMC said, adding 67 patients were shifted to other hospitals after the blaze.