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Seven Newborns Killed in Delhi Children Hospital Fire

Seven Newborns Killed in Delhi Children Hospital Fire

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 26: Seven newborns were killed when a massive fire tore through a children’s hospital in Eastern Delhi’s Vivek Vihar on Saturday night, officials said on Sunday. The owner of the hospital has been arrested, the Delhi Police said.

“Twelve newborn babies were rescued from the hospital with the help of other people,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara) Surendra Choudhary said in a statement. While six babies were declared brought dead, one died during treatment, the officer said.

The Delhi Fire Services (DFS) chief Atul Garg said five babies were undergoing treatment at another hospital. The police said the owner of the children’s hospital Dr Naveen Kichi had been arrested and was being questioned on the incident.

The officials said the fire broke out at the Baby Care New Born Hospital and its adjacent building at around 11.32 pm and quickly intensified due to the presence of numerous oxygen cylinders that began to explode, spreading the blaze further and causing extensive damage. “We received the call at 11.32 pm and initially dispatched seven fire trucks, followed by an additional fourteen. There were 4-5 explosions that significantly worsened the fire, with oxygen cylinders being hurled as far as 50 meters away. The building, which was ground plus three stories high, housed the children on the first floor and a storage area on the second. The fire spread to adjacent floors as well,” Mr Garg said.

Firefighters battled the inferno for three hours, during which time the challenges of locating and rescuing the infants added to the difficulties. “We did not know the exact number of children inside,” Mr Garg added. “The initial cause of the fire seems to have been an electrical pole igniting, which then set fire to a parked vehicle, eventually causing the oxygen cylinders to catch fire.”

Mr Garg also noted that while the building had reportedly acquired a No Objection Certificate (NOC), the fire department had no records of it. “We are verifying the NOC. If it’s found lacking, we will recommend the building’s closure. An investigation is underway to determine if proper firefighting measures were in place, but it’s difficult to assess right now as the building is completely gutted.”

Mr Garg said the fire was caused by a blast in an oxygen cylinder and spread rapidly. Several residents of the area where the hospital was located alleged that oxygen cylinders were traded at the care centre and the authorities had been informed about this earlier. “Cylinders blast when the fire broke out. It’s unclear whether the fire broke out due to the cylinder blast or vice-versa. Owners of this centre were trading cylinders. They used to fill small cylinders from the bigger ones. The owners and management of this centre shared this concern. We had complained to local authorities but no action was taken,” the locals said.

President Droupadi Murmu in a post on X said, “The news of death of many children due to fire in a hospital in Vivek Vihar, Delhi is heart-rending. May God give strength to the bereaved parents and relatives to bear this shock. I pray for the speedy recovery of other children injured in this incident.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the fire tragedy at a hospital in east Delhi is heart-rending, and his thoughts were with the bereaved families in this incredibly difficult time.

The Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the incident ‘heart-breaking.’ “We all stand with those who lost their innocent children in this accident. Government and administration officials are busy providing treatment to the injured at the spot,” he said. Vowing that whoever is responsible for this negligence would not be spared, Mr Kejriwal said the cause of the incident was being investigated.

The Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said, “Very unfortunate incident reported. I have asked Secretary [Health] to update about the current situation. Culprits will not be spared. Strictest punishment will be ensured for those found negligent or involved in any wrong doing.”

Mr Bharadwaj sent directions to Health Secretary Deepak Kumar and Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar for speedy enquiry in the fire at the baby care centre incident and provide names and designations of officers or private people responsible for this negligence.

“As the Health Secretary is not responding to phone calls and messages, directions have been sent via email with copy to CS,” the Health Minister said. Directions have been given to ensure free treatment of rescued children in best private hospitals (under Farishtey scheme). Directions for speedy Compensation to the families of deceased and injured have also been given, along with the directions to expedite arrests of those who were running the centre.





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