New Delhi, Aug 9 (efe-epa).- At least 10 coronavirus patients died on Sunday after a fire broke out inside a hotel that had been converted into a hospital in south India, four days after a similar incident left eight people dead in the country.
Imtiaz Ahmed, the collector of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh state, said the fire began in the early hours of Sunday and claimed the lives of 10 patients.
City Police Commissioner Srinivasa Rao said the fire broke out around 5 am and suffocation due to smoke emanating from the blaze may have caused most of the casualties.
The state’s interior minister, Mekathoti Sucharitha, said an electric short circuit had probably caused the fire.
“The hotel was taken on lease and run by Ramesh Hospitals, a private hospital, where Covid patients are being treated. It came to our notice that 40 patients and 10 medical staff were at the hotel at the time of the accident,” Sucharitha said in a statement.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his “anguish” and his support for the victims’ relatives, while Andhra Pradesh’s head of government, Jagan Mohan Reddy, announced compensation for the families of the victims.
This is the second fire to have broken out in a small hospital for coronavirus patients in India in less than a week.
On Thursday, eight Covid-19 patients, including an 82-year-old man, died in a fire that broke out in an intensive care ward of a private hospital in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad while 40 others were rescued.
Accidental tragedies like building collapses and fires are common in India, often due to faulty infrastructure and lack of maintenance, lax implementation of safety norms and corruption and illegal practices in the construction sector exacerbate those problems.
In one of the most devastating tragedies that struck the national capital New Delhi in December last year, 45 people were killed in a massive fire that ripped through a bag factory, trapping scores of workers sleeping inside.
India, the world’s third-worst affected country by the pandemic, surpassed two million coronavirus cases this week and currently has 2.15 million infections and 43,379 deaths.
Despite an increasing number of infections in recent weeks, almost a million in less than a month, the government on Aug. 1 further relaxed the coronavirus-induced restrictions.
The government has allowed almost all activities, although educational institutes remain closed. There is also a ban on events involving large gatherings. EFE-EPA