At least four infants died after a fire broke out in a ward of Kamala Nehru Children's Hospital in Bhopal late on Monday night, 8 November, State Medical Education Minister Vishwas Sarang said.
Sarang, who rushed to the spot and was overseeing rescue operations, said, "It's a very unfortunate incident. I got here within 10-15 minutes. Initially it seems the fire broke out due to short-circuit. I myself shifted the kids to an adjoining wards. The situation was very grim. It's a sad incident which resulted in the death of four kids. It will be further examined by Mohammad Suleman, ACS Health."
Sarang added that the families of deceased kids would be provided a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each. "It's a very painful incident and there really can't be any compensation but we are trying our best. An enquiry has been ordered into the matter and necessary action will be taken post enquiry," he added.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, one of the family members of a newborn alleged that there were sparking incidents two hours before the fire. The same had been conveyed to the management but no action was taken.
According to officials, the fire broke out in a general ward and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) ward, from where 36 of the 40 infants were rescued, whereas four infants, who were already in a critical condition, lost their life.
Fatehgarh fire station in-charge Juber Khan said that 8 to 10 fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the fire which started around 8:45 pm, multiple reports suggested.
MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan Announces Probe
Madhya Pradesh (MP) Chief Minister (CM) Shivraj Singh Chouhan later took to social media to condemn the incident and ordered a high-level probe into it.
"The probe will be conducted by additional chief secretary (ACS) health and medical education, Mohammad Suleiman," he said in another tweet.
Chouhan called the incident very sad and instructed the administration and rescue personnel to bring the situation under control.
"We were unable to save three children who were already seriously injured in the fire incident which is very painful. The rescue operation was swift and the blaze is under control now but unfortunately the lives of three children could not be saved," Chouhan tweeted.
Later on Tuesday, he addressed a press conference and called it "a case of criminal negligence".
"It is an unfortunate incident. A probe has been ordered into the incident. This is a case of criminal negligence. Stringent action will be taken against those found guilty," CM Singh Chouhan added, according to ANI.
He also demanded a report on fire safety audit to know where it was carried out and where it wasn't, adding that both government and private hospitals were to undergo fire safety audit.
Meanwhile, Congress MLA PC Sharma met with the families of the victims and visited the ward where newborns were being treated after Monday night's fire.
Earlier on Monday night, Arif Masood, another Congress MLA from Bhopal who was present at the spot, said, “This is the second incident reported in the same building. An inquiry has been ordered but the reason behind these incidents should be thoroughly investigated and those responsible should be punished,” reported The Indian Express.
NCPCR Requests an Inquiry
A day after the incident, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) took suo motu cognisance of the same.
The NCPCR wrote to the Chief Secretary asking for the constitution of an inquiry team and seeking the details of the last fire safety audit done in the hospital, according to ANI.
The NCPCR also asked the other hospitals and medical colleges that have NICU and PICU for children to undertake all fire safety audits.
"They should get NOC from Fire Department and get the renewal only after meeting given criteria. A district wise compliance report for all states and union territories should be arranged for the Commission within 30 days from the date of issue of this letter," the statement said, according to ANI.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and ANI.)