A major fire broke out in a private hospital early on Friday in Virar town, Palghar district of Maharashtra, around 80 km north of Mumbai, claiming the lives of at least 14 COVID-19 patients.
The incident was noticed at around 3:15 AM in the ICU ward on the second floor of the four-storeyed Vijay Vallabh hospital at Tirupati Nagar. The Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC) rushed ten fire-fighting teams and other rescue agencies to battle the fire, as did grieving families. The fire was caused by a suspected short-circuit in the hospital's air-conditioning plant and was extinguished at around 5:50 AM, informed VVMC Chief Fire Officer Dilip Palav.
CM Uddhav Thackeray ordered a probe into the tragedy and announced a compensation of 5 lakhs for the kin of all the deceased and one lakh for all injured persons. PM Modi, meanwhile, announced compensation for two lakh for the kin of the deceased and 50,000 for those seriously injured. Maharashtra Health Minister Rajiv Tope said that the VVMC also would give five lakhs to relatives of the deceased.
This is the second major tragedy in the state in the past 48 hours. An oxygen gas leak at a Nashik Municipal Corporation-run hospital on April 21 claimed 29 lives.