New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: In a shocking incident, at least 10 newborn babies were killed in a massive fire that broke out at the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) of Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra in the wee hours of Saturday. According to the report, 7 more children were rescued from the SNCU of the hospital. The infants were aged between a month and three months, a doctor said.

District civil surgeon Pramod Khandate said the fire broke out at the Bhandara district hospital at around 1.30 am. There were 17 babies in the unit and seven were rescued. A nurse first noticed smoke coming out from the neonatal section of the hospital and alerted doctors and other staff who reached there in five minutes.

"There were 17 newborn children admitted in the SNCU unit at the time when the fire broke out. The nurse on duty opened the door of the unit and saw a large amount of smoke in the room. She immediately told the hospital officials and fire brigades were called," he said as quoted by news agency ANI.

"The fire brigade reached the spot and started the rescue operation with the help of the people in the hospital. 10 children died in SNCU," he added.

Khandate said the ward where newborn babies are kept requires a continuous supply of oxygen. "There were fire extinguishers and staff used them while trying to douse the fire. There was too much smoke," he added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled the deaths of the infants and termed the incident 'heart-wrenching tragedy' where precious young lives were lost. 

"Heart-wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives. My thoughts are with all the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover as early as possible", PM Modi tweeted. 

However, the cause of the fire in the four-storeyed building is yet to be ascertained but could have been the result of an electrical short circuit. Meanwhile, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray spoke to Health Minister Rajesh Tope as well as District Collector and Superintendent of Police of Bhandara district over the incident and ordered a high-level probe. A compensation of Rs 5 lakh has also been ordered to the kin of the deceased. 

Parents of the deceased children have been informed and the seven newborn babies rescued in the blaze have been shifted to another ward, he said. Patients from the ICU ward, dialysis wing and labour ward (a room in a hospital set aside for childbirth) were also shifted to other wards safely. 

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan