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December 9, 2011

At least 70 dead in a devastating fire at AMRI Hospital; CM revokes license of the hospital

At least 70 dead in a devastating fire at AMRI Hospital; CM revokes license of the hospital

Kolkata, December 9: West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee rushed the AMRI, Dhakuria and immediately took charge of the situation after a devastating fire engulfed the private hospital. Known for her human approach, she straight away met the family and relatives of the deceased patients and expressed her solidarity.  Seeing Ms. Mamata Banerjee standing along with them, the family members and relatives showed their gratitude towards Didi, who in turn assured them of severe action to be taken against those found guilty. `I assure you all that this has not only exposed the inside story of such hospitals where life has no value but also peeved the way for other hospital to be cautious, as I will not tolerate any such incident in future`, said Ms. Mamata Banerjee who later issued order to cancel the license of the AMRI Hospital, Dhakuria in South Kolkata sine die. `I have canceled the license and also initiated a criminal case and will see that those responsible for this incident will be booked`, added Ms. Banerjee.

Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee said 41 of the bodies had been brought to the state-run SSKM Hospital in South Kolkata.

The chief minister said the colour photos of the faces of the unidentified victims will be displayed outside the SSKM morgue.

"After identification, we will send the bodies in hearses to their homes," said the Chief Minister.

On the basis of a first information report (FIR) lodged by the fire brigade, police had started a criminal case against the hospital management. "They will be arrested. We will take strict action against the hospital," said the Chief Minister.

The devastating fire broke out at the AMRI Hospital in Dhakuria in South Kolkata early in the wee hours on Friday. Kolkata which woke up with the news will always remember the fateful Friday as `Black Friday`. The incident occurred around 2:30 am. on Friday morning. According to the prima facie reports the fire which broke out in the basement of the 161-bed hospital due to a short circuit. The basement which was staged with inflammable materials soon was in flames. The hospital had flouted all the construction laws and by laws issued by the fire service department, there was not even proper fire-fighting equipment. Kolkata Fire Services filed First Information Report (FIR) against the AMRI Hospital. Nearly 35-fire-tenders were rushed to the spot.

Nearly 70-people are confirmed dead due to suffocation, those who were being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and on life support system could not even get a second chance to breathe and succumbed to death. However, the toll includes five-nurses and officials who were on duty on the fateful night. Many people were, however, are still believed to be trapped inside. Those who had come to for treatment at the hospital had to bid adieu to life.  West Bengal Health Minister who said that the death toll could go up expressed shock to know that the fire safety measures were not in place in the hospital.

Firemen using ladders smashed window panes in the facade to rescue patients trapped inside the ICU, ICCU, ITU and Critical Care units. The identification of bodies was on but sources said some of the bodies may not be identified as they were charred. However, those who were witness to the fire said that the situation could have been brought under control had the management did not stop the locals and slum dwellers who expressed their willingness to douse off the fire and planned to break the glasses when the fire was at initial state. 

Upset and angry relatives destroyed hospital property shouting slogans against authorities for not having enough fire safety measures. Ms. Banerjee requested the police officials to show constraints as the people were aggrieved. Ms. Banerjee also promised Rs.3 lakh of family members of the victims, who are not well-off, if they made an appeal.” If anybody appeals for a government job, we will also try to help them out," she said.

Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee who canceled all her appointments for then day announced that she would prefer to stay beside the family and relatives of those who succumbed to injury. After staying and taking stock of the situation at the spot she decided to visit SSKM Hospital where the patients were taken for postmortem.