Fire kills four newborns in Indian hospital, 36 others rescued

Inquiry ordered after blaze sweeps through newborn care unit at a government hospital in Madhya Pradesh state.

A man carries a child out from the Kamla Nehru Children's Hospital after a fire in its newborn care unit in Bhopal, India [AP Photo]

A fire has swept through a newborn care unit in a hospital in central India, killing four infants, officials say, the latest in a string of hospital fires in the country this year that have killed dozens.

An investigation was ordered into the fire that occurred on Monday night at the Kamla Nehru Children’s Hospital in Bhopal, said Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh state.

“The untimely departure [death] of children from the world is an unbearable pain,” Chauhan said on Twitter, offering his condolences to the families affected.

He announced a compensation of 400,000 rupees ($5,400) for the family of the victims.

There were 40 children in total in the unit, out of which 36 – most of them underweight – have been rescued, said Medical Education Minister Vishwas Kailash Sarang.

“The other children are being treated,” Sarang later said on Twitter.

While an inquiry is still ongoing, authorities told the Press Trust of India news agency that a short circuit might have caused the fire.

Footage on local news channels showed angry parents protesting at the premises, alleging that instead of saving the children, the hospital staff had fled.

Fatal building fires are not uncommon in India, where poor maintenance and lack of proper firefighting equipment often lead to deaths.

Hospital fires have killed at least 70 people in India this year, including 11 last weekend in the COVID-19 care unit of a hospital in Maharashtra, a state neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.

Source: News Agencies