The death toll was likely to rise further, with the injured being shifted to various hospitals in the city.
According to sources, the fire started due to a short-circuit in the central AC unit of SUM Hospital and Medical College, run by the SOA group of institutions. The fire immediately spread through an oxygen pipeline to the dialysis unit, the intensive care unit (ICU) and the emergency ward of the hospital. Though fire tenders reached the spot and brought the fire under control, a large part of the dialysis unit and the ICU were gutted. The entire hospital was covered in a thick blanket of smoke, hampering rescue operation.
The state government has ordered a probe into the incident. State health minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said stringent action would be taken against those found guilty.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi voiced “deep anguish” at the loss of lives, calling it “mind-numbing”.
“Deeply anguished by the loss of lives in the hospital fire in Odisha. The tragedy is mind-numbing. My thoughts are with bereaved families,” Modi wrote on microblogging website Twitter. “Spoke to Minister @JPNadda (Health Minister) & asked him to facilitate transfer of all those injured to AIIMS. Hope the injured recover quickly. Also spoken to Minister @dpradhanbjp and asked him to ensure all possible help to the injured and affected,” he posted in a series of tweets.