A day after a major fire at a hospital here claimed 20 lives, the gutted portions of the private medical facility were sealed today ahead of a probe as the Odisha government made preparations for the treatment of the injured who have been shifted to other hospitals.
While 20 deaths were officially confirmed, authorities of different hospitals where the injured where shifted last night put the toll at 22.
Health Secretary Arti Ahuja, who visited the Sum Hospital, said that 14 and five bodies were received at the Capital Hospital and AMRI Hospital here respectively, while a Spokesman of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar said that one death was reported at their facility.
Most of the deaths took place due to suffocation and asphyxiation, a senior official said, adding that majority of the patients were on ventilator support at the ICU in the Sum Hospital.
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister J P Nadda in Delhi said, "The Prime Minister had sent instructions to me to check all the arrangements from the health point of view. We informed AIIMS, Bhubanesawar immediately. The Director, Medical Superintendent, specialists and doctors are present there since last night.
"Around 30 patients have been admitted to AIIMS and all facilities have been provided by us. The state and Central government officials are in contact with us."
After visiting the Sum Hospital, the Health Secretary said that the Intensive Care Unit and dialysis unit of the fire-hit medical facility have been sealed to ensure a proper investigation.
As many as 106 persons, who were shifted from Sum Hospital following the blaze last night, are now undergoing treatment at different hospitals in the city, she said.
Some patients have also been shifted to the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack for treatment.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visited some of the hospitals, including AIIMS and AMRI Hospital here, to inquire about the condition of the patients undergoing treatment there.
State's Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said the priority was to provide 'proper' treatment to the patients from the fire-hit hospital who have been shifted to other medical facilities.
The state government has already ordered a high-level probe by the Director, Medical Education and Training, into the incident. In addition, a probe by the revenue divisional commissioner (RDC) has also been ordered, an official said.
State Governor S C Jamir visited the hospitals where the injured were undergoing treatment.
Siksha 'O' Anusandhan University (SOA), which runs the Institute of Medical Sciences and Sum Hospital, announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh each for the families of the dead, its Vice-Chancellor Amit Banerjee said.
Four employees of the hospital have been suspended following the fire while the institute would bear the treatment cost of the injured.
Banerjee said that all required cooperation would be
extended for the two inquiries ordered into the fire by the state government. Moreover, an internal inquiry is also being conducted by the hospital authorities, he said.
Maintaining that there was no lapse on the part of the hospital after the fire broke out, he said the evacuation protocol had been strictly followed during the rescue operation.
The Chief Minister has directed the government hospitals to provide necessary treatment to patients shifted from Sum Hospital and requested all private hospitals to extend treatment to patients from the medical facility.
Meanwhile, Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) took suo motu cognisance of the tragedy and issued notices to the state health secretary and Director General (Fire Services) asking them to submit reports in three weeks.
DG (Fire Services) Binay Behera, who had supervised the fire-fighting operation at the hospital last night, also visited the medical facility today.
He said that guidelines had been issued for fire safety measures at hospitals in 2013 and prima facie it appeared that the fire was caused by an electric short circuit. The probe would also seek to ascertain whether proper fire safety measures had been followed at the hospital, Behera said.
The fire that broke out at the dialysis unit of the hospital was one of the worst such incidents involving a medical facility in Odisha.
All the 20 deceased have been identified and their bodies handed over to their families for cremation, an official said.
At least seven fire tenders took around three hours to control the blaze and over a dozen ambulances were deployed to shift the critical patients to other hospitals.
Besides the Capital Hospital, patients were shifted to Amri Hospital, AIIMS, Apollo Hospital, Kalinga Hospital, SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack and some other hospitals in the state capital region.
Opposition Congress and BJP held the state government and the hospital authorities responsible for the tragedy.
Congress stalwart and Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra said the incident took place because of failure on the part of government to ensure proper fire safety measures at the hospital, while senior party leader Niranjan Patnaik termed the probes ordered by the government as an "eye-wash" and demanded a judicial inquiry.
BJP leader and Union Minister Jual Oram alleged that the tragedy occurred as the state government and hospital authorities failed to discharge their responsibilities.