At least ten people were killed in a massive fire that broke out at a hotel which was converted as Covid-19 care facility in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. The incident occurred early on Sunday morning at Hotel Swarna Palace in the city, that was being used by Ramesh Hospital as the Covid Care Centre, said Police Commissioner B Srinivasulu. Fire engines were immediately rushed to the spot.
The patients have been shifted to other Covid Care Centres in the city and aid activities are in full swing at Swarna Palace.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed shock and grief over the mishap and ordered inquiry into the incident. He directed officials to take up rescue measures and admit the injured into nearby hospitals.
Condoling the loss of lives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to CM Reddy over phone and enquired about the incident. Speaking to the PM, Reddy informed him about the situation and said that a compensation of Rs 50 lakh per family has been announced to help the families of the deceased. PM Modi also extended all the possible help and assured support to the families of the victims.
There were reportedly up to 40 people, 30 patients and 10 hospital staff, in the hotel at the time of the accident. Fires initially broke out on the ground and first floors. However, smoke spread to the other floors as well.
Victims screamed through the windows, struggling to breathe due to the thick smoke. Four people jumped down from the first floor. Police and firefighters broke window panes and rescued several others with the help of a ladder.
Taking note of the incident, Minister of State for Home affairs G Kishan Reddy said that teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have also joined the rescue operations. "Shocked and distressed by the news of fire at a Covid centre in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. NDRF teams have joined the local authorities in relief operations. Prayers for the families of the bereaved and safety of others," he said.
The hotel, where the accident occurred, was taken on lease and run by a private hospital in Vijayawada to treat Covid-19 patients.