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20 feared dead in Kolkata hospital fire: Minister

Kolkata, Dec 9 (IANS) At least 20 people were feared to have suffocated to death in a massive fire that broke out at the AMRI hospital in Dhakuria of south Kolkata early Friday, West Bengal Municipal Affairs minister Frihad Hakim said.

‘From whatever information I have got from the fire department officials, there is a possibility that at least 20 people may have died,’ said Hakim, who was at the spot.

Earlier, Around 20 fire engines were rushed to the spot and patients and hospital staff are being evacuated. The fire fighters were using hydraulic ladders to rescue the patients and office staff by cutting open the glasses with gas cutters.

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  • Rescue operations are still on. Almost 99 per cent of the people have been rescued: Fire Services Minister Javed Khan

‘The number of injuries is still not known. The fire engulfed four floors of one of the buildings of the AMRI hospital in Dhakuria. Now the fire has been restricted to the basement,’ an officer manning the city police control room told IANS over phone.

Witnesses said several people were likely to have sustained injuries.

Fire services minister Javed Khan said: ‘The fire is under control but yet to be doused completely. My men are putting out fire in one spot only to find another area in flames. There are lot of combustible materials.’

A patient in his 50s admitted in the second floor of the affected building said he was brought down by breaking the glass windows. ‘Around 4 a.m. when I had gone to the toilet I heard nurses saying that a portion of the building has caught fire. But they did not help me. Finally along with some other patients I came near a window. Then the fire brigade personnel came and rescued me by breaking open the glass windows.’

‘I tried to bring all my medical papers but they slipped out of my hands. I have lost them,’ said the sobbing patient.

Another patient said: ‘There was smoke. I helped many of the patients come out of their wards. But it is my misfortune that I could not bring out two seriously ill patients.’

Some of the patients in the affected building have been shifted to two other blocks in the hospital complex.

Hundreds of relatives of the patients admitted in the hospital were seen weeping and pleading with the firemen and disaster management personnel for news of their dear ones.

‘We came to the hospital at the crack of dawn when we got to hear of the fire from television. We don’t know what has happened to our patient,’ said a relative.

City police commissioner Ranjit Pachnanda and state municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim were at the spot.

When contacted, a senior hospital official said: ‘I can’t tell you anything now.’

He also could not give the number of patients trapped or admitted in the hospital at the time of the fire.

Kolkata, Dec 9 (IANS) At least 20 people were feared to have suffocated to death in a massive firethat broke out at the AMRI hospital in Dhakuria of south Kolkata early Friday, West Bengal Municipal Affairs minister Frihad Hakim said.

‘From whatever information I have got from the fire department officials, there is a possibility that at least 20 people may have died,’ said Hakim, who was at the spot.

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