Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 15 June 2024 4.12 PM IST

Incident where six newborns were burned to death; Hospital unlicensed, doctors not qualified


NEW DELHI: An investigation has uncovered several violations at the hospital that caught fire on Saturday night in East Delhi. The hospital's license had expired on March 31, and the police investigation revealed that the hospital was operating without permission after this date.

DCP Shahdara Surendra Chowdhury stated that the hospital was only authorized to have five beds but there were 12 newborn babies present at the time of the incident. The doctors lacked the necessary educational qualifications to treat infants, as they held BAMS degrees.

Additionally, it was alleged that no fire protection equipment was installed anywhere in the hospital, and the building, originally intended for domestic purposes, had been converted into a hospital. The hospital was not registered under the Delhi Nursing Home Act.

The Delhi Police announced the arrest of the hospital director, Naveen Kitchi and a doctor who was on duty at the time of the accident, citing the numerous violations. Dr Naveen Kitchi, who managed three other similar establishments in Delhi had absconded immediately after the incident but was apprehended in Rajasthan.

When the fire broke out at 11 PM, Shaheed Sevadal volunteers and residents initiated the rescue operation before the fire brigade arrived. Initially, it was reported that the fire started due to the explosion of oxygen cylinders on the second floor, but later it was suggested that a generator explosion was the cause. The fire quickly spread to the first floor, where the infants were being cared for and smoke filled the children's ward.

The fire had spread to the front of the building via the staircase, making it impossible to enter. Rescuers had to jump over the back wall, climb through windows and pull out the 12 infants. Tragically, the children died of suffocation. As soon as the fire broke out, the hospital staff fled, leaving no one to provide crucial information about the number of children or the location of emergency exits.

The fire force received the information at 11.32 pm and dispatched 16 units. Narrow roads, downed power lines and a lack of water complicated the rescue operations. Residents also participated in the rescue efforts. During this time, cylinders continued to explode, scattering debris over a wide area.

The fire was finally extinguished by morning, leaving the front of the building gutted. The remnants of the disaster included a burnt ambulance and broken oxygen cylinders. Two clothes shops, a bank and another shop were also damaged.

At the time of the fire, it is alleged that illegal filling of oxygen cylinders was taking place at the hospital. Despite complaints to the councillor and the police, no action had been taken. Locals asserted that the illegally stored oxygen cylinders exacerbated the scale of the disaster.

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