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Large Fire at Government Hospital in Chennai, No Injuries Reported

Large Fire at Government Hospital in Chennai, No Injuries Reported

Patients being evacuated after a fire broke out at the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital. Photo: PTI

Chennai: A fire broke out in a state-run hospital block here on Wednesday and over 100 patients were swiftly shifted by officials averting a major mishap and the blaze was doused in a 3-hour battle by firefighters, authorities said.

There were no loss of lives or injuries to anyone.

The fire broke out at the old surgical unit of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital here and patients were quickly shifted to a nearby block by doctors, hospital staff and personnel of the TN Fire and Rescue Service (TNFRS) and the police department. All the 99 patients in the old surgical unit besides 3 in the Intensive Care Unit were safely evacuated.

Electricity short circuit, which is suspected to be the cause of fire, led to the explosion of three oxygen cylinders. There was panic for a while and ladders were used to bring down the patients through a window. TNFRS personnel also used a sky lift to rescue the patients and others stuck inside the block. Visuals of some patients trying to scramble to safety and a woman being carried by two nurses and a patient went viral on the social media. An explosion followed by the fire emanating from the block led to tense moments among the patients and their attendants.

Speaking in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on the incident, health minister Ma Subramanian said a major tragedy was averted by the presence of mind of doctors, staff and the prompt action by the fire and police personnel in extinguishing the flames and rescuing the patients.

The minister thanked all those who helped in shifting the patients to safety. “The fire and rescue service personnel battled with the flames for nearly three hours by initially pressing four fire tenders into service,” he said.

“Electrical failure (short circuit) is the suspected cause of the blaze. The Intensive Care Unit and other wards are on the same floor where fire broke out. Soon after information was received fire tenders reached the spot. All the patients who were on that floor were shifted safely to other wards,” the health minister told reporters.

The minister said that chief minister M.K. Stalin instructed him and the health secretary to personally inspect the measures being taken to extinguish the fire caused by electrical short circuit. “About 99 patients including 33 patients in the neurological ward in the second floor, 26 other patients, 40 patients in the cardiac block besides 3 in ICU were safely evacuated.”

Indicating that ‘poor building maintenance’ during the last 10 years of the AIADMK regime could have led to the incident, Subramanian said steps would be taken to construct two new blocks after consulting the chief minister.

A TNFRS official told PTI that the accident occurred on a floor that houses an ICU and wards. “Oxygen cylinders and medical devices are also kept on the same floor. Three oxygen cylinders have exploded due to the incident,” he said.

Subramanian, accompanied by health secretary J. Radhakrishnan and Chennai mayor R. Priya and senior officials rushed to the spot and monitored the rescue and fire fighting operations.

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