The authorities of the SUM Hospital-cum-medical college, where at least 19 people died and several others were critically injured after a major fire broke out in ICU and dialysis ward, on Tuesday asserted that the evacuation process was carried out in the best possible manner or else the number of casualties would have been much higher.
SUM Hospital-cum-medical college's vice-chancellor Amit Banerjee said, "There are three prompt issues involved - one is evacuating the patients making sure that suddenly we do not disconnect the ventilators because that would be almost like killing the patient by ourselves. The second thing that we had to douse the fire, we could not have allowed the fire to extend. We could not allow the smoke to extend and thirdly, as you know in such situation there are always onlookers and you know the people who get into a panic situation. So, it was also on us to ensure that panic is not created there. So, this three in one thing we had to do almost together in a considerate manner."
"20 is a huge number that is why you know we have said that we are mourning the deaths but you have to understand that this number of 20, quite a few people died of asphyxia. It is not the fire that has affected the people. It is the smoke and you know everybody's lung capacity is not the same like people, who are elderly their lung capacity is very small.
Even a small amount of inhalation may actually disable their lungs," he added.
He further said that their aim was also to control prevention of a panic like situation.
"When in such a situation if certain people get involved in that, if certain people inhale the smoke then naturally the consequences are likely to follow. Therefore, it is very unfortunate that certain number of people has succumbed to that but I feel that if we have procrastinated, evacuation protocol had not been so rapid and so well concerted. The number of deaths could have been much higher." he said.
Meanwhile, Fire Services Director General Binaya Behera said that they would give a report to the government.
"We have full sympathy with the family of the bereaved. As of now, we are making a very objective enquiry. I have got my own findings and I will submit the report to the government later. The Chief Minister has ordered a very high-level enquiry. I did my own review and came with my whole team of officers," he said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who had earlier visited the Capital Hospital, where most of the injured were brought in, has ordered a probe into the incident.
He inquired about the condition of the injured and directed that necessary treatment should be given to patients shifted from Sum Hospital.
Patnaik also requested all private hospitals to extend treatment to the patients.
The Odisha Government has formed a three member committee under a Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) to probe the matter.
Meanwhile, the Centre has extended all possible help including shifting out the patients to various hospital ensuring speedy recovery of the injured.
The police and fire brigade personnel along with volunteers and hospital staff yesterday launched a massive rescue operation as more than 500 indoor patients were trapped in the building.
The blaze was suspected to have been triggered by an electric short circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor of the hospital.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)