10 dead in Andhra COVID centre fire, govt sets up probe panel
Vijayawada, August 9, 2020
At least 10 patients were killed and several others injured in a fire at a hotel functioning as a COVID care facility early on Sunday, Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Alla Nani said.
The government has set up a committee to inquire into the incident, said the minister, who inspected the scene at the Swarna Palace hotel which had been converted into a paid COVID care centre by a private hospital here.
The inquiry committee has been tasked with submitting its findings to the government within 48 hours, he added.
Following a review meeting with local authorities and officials concerned, the minister said that the fire had broken out at 4.45 a.m., while the fire station received the first intimation at 5.09 a.m.
Panic-stricken inmates began screaming for help and a few staff members leapt off from the first floor, suffering injuries.
There were around 50 people in the building at the time of the mishap, of whom 31 were COVID-19 patients. The remaining inmates were medical staff and support personnel.
Ten COVID-19 patients, including two women at the centre, were killed in the blaze suspected to have been set off by a short circuit. The remaining COVID patients are reported to be safe and recovering.
Stating that initial investigations point to several violations, the minister said that a police case has been registered against the Ramesh Hospital's management under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has expressed sorrow over the tragedy and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 50 lakh to families of each of the victims.