Mumbai, Dec 17 (IANS) At least six persons were killed and 147 others, mostly patients and staffers, injured in a major fire that engulfed the state government-run Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) Hospital at Andheri East here on Monday, officials said.
A majority of those injured, who have been admitted to various hospitals in the suburbs, were patients and staffers. By late on Monday night, around a dozen were treated and discharged.
Informed official sources said the toll might increase as some of the injured were in a critical condition.
The fire was first noticed near the operation theatre of the five-storey hospital located at Marol MIDC, an industrial hub in Andheri East.
The blaze quickly spread horizontally and vertically, trapping around 155 people.
Panicking, some patients and staffers did not wait for help and jumped out of the fourth floor window. They suffered fractures, and at least one was killed.
The fire brigade team rushed to the spot with 12 fire tenders, 15 water tankers and other specialised equipment to battle the blaze.
The firemen also used ladders and ropes to bring down the wailing and screaming victims trapped on the third and fourth floors of the hospital.
Leaping flames, resulting in thick black cloud of smoke, besides a precautionary power cut, rendered the rescue operation difficult but the blaze was controlled in nearly four hours, said the BMC Disaster Control.
A majority of those rescued had suffered burn wounds or suffocation symptoms.
They were admitted to half-a-dozen government and private hospitals in Andheri, Vile Parle, Jogeshwari and Goregaon.
Nineteen were taken to Cooper Hospital, Juhu, 39 to Prabodhankar Thackeray Trauma Hospital, Jogeshwari East, 40 to Holi Spirit Hospital, Andheri East, 44 to Seven Hills Hospital, Andheri East, three to Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, and two to Sidhharth Hospital, Goregaon.
Preliminary reports suggested that the fire might have erupted due to a short-circuit in the hospital building with a glass facade.
State Health Minister Deepak Sawant and Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, who visited the mishap site, along with senior officials, promised a detailed probe and strict action against those guilty of lapses.
Meanwhile, thick clouds of smoke emanating from the fire-hit hospital travelled quite a bit, reducing the visibility in the area and leading to peak-hour traffic jams.
Mumbai has witnessed over a dozen major fires in residential and commercial premises claiming over 50 lives and injuring many more besides damage to properties.