On Sunday, around 5 pm at least ten people became the victim of a fire accident after a fire breaks out in Vijayawada in a hotel turned into Covid-19 care center by a private hospital. The cause of the fire which set the ground and the first floor of the hotel ablaze is suspected to have been caused because of a short circuit.
Officials reported that at the time of the incident, about 30 corona virus-infected patients along with thirteen medical staff were also present in the building. Currently, there are 2, 14,145 COVID-19 cases reported by Andhra Pradesh, of which 85,486 are active. While 1, 26,720 people have recovered, 1,939 have succumbed to the virus. The town of Vijayawada accounts for a great chunk of cases of corona virus.
The fire erupted at around 5 a.m. on the ground and first floors of the Swarna Palace Hotel, which Ramesh Hospitals had rented as a COVID treatment center. There are approximately 40 rooms in the hotel, and 30 of them were occupied by patients.
Director-General of the Department of Disaster Response and Fire Services Md Ahsan Raza said one COVID-19 patient died while nine died of smoke-caused asphyxiation. Of the victims, there were three women.
One hotel staff sustained serious burns after leaping out a window on the first floor to avoid the blaze. Incident videos show people trapped in the building’s upper floors, even as fire trucks fought fires that had broken out between the hotel’s first and second floors. Most of them stood by their door, calling officials to support them.
In response to the incident
The Andhra Pradesh Department of Disaster Response and Fire Services has rescued 32 civilians. The workers used ladders to rescue some of those who had been trapped, while others were taken out of the building after the flames had been doused and placed in ambulances that had arrived at the location. In the fire, the Hotel’s entire lobby was destroyed.
A criminal case under Sections 304(2) and 308 of the Indian Penal Code against the management of the Swarna Palace Hotel and Ramesh Hospitals has been filed. The State Government formed two committees to conduct a thorough probe on the exact cause of the fire and other lapses that led to the tragedy. The CM had also directed the officials to take urgent steps to ensure that the victims of the incident receive proper medical care.
The state government said negligence on the part of the management of Ramesh Hospitals has been identified prima facie in running the COVID Care Center in the hotel since mid-July.
Swarna Palace was claimed to be a major fire hazard because it did not even have adequate exit points, which made the rescue operation very difficult and the relief team had to use ladders to get the people trapped down.
Deputy Chief Minister (Health) A K Srinivas and Home Minister M Sucharita said 31 COVID-19 patients, six hospital and hotel workers were in the building when the fire broke out in the ground floor reception lobby and spread to the first floor.
The response of the government
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who addressed Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, expressed his condolences to the members of the bereaved family.
- Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, and Minister of State Home M. Sucharitha expressed their condolences to the members of the bereaved family.
- The chief minister announced to the next of the deceased’s kin an ex gratia of Rupees 50 lakh each.
- Endowments Minister V. Srinivas, Director-General of Police D. Gautam Sawang, Collector A.Md. Imtiaz, Inspector-General Hasan Reza, and Director K. Jayaram Naik of State Disaster Response and Fire Services A.P., and District Fire Officer G. Srinivas arrived at the spot to track rescue operations.
- State TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu, Somu Veerraju, president of the BJP district, and Babu Rao, chief of the CPI (M), expressed shock at the tragedy and expressed their condolences to the bereaved families.
- Mr. Imtiaz said the security aspects at the other quarantine centers were being checked and stern action against the individuals responsible for the accident will be initiated.
- Mr. Jayaram Naik said that certain fire safety standards violations had been observed and the lease system was being verified. Police at Governorpet have registered a case and are investigating.
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