Mumbai Hospital Fire tragic tales: 2-month-old baby perishes at birthplace, asthma patients choke on poisonous fumes

Mumbai: Four of the eight persons who died after a massive fire breakout at Employees’ State Insurance Corporation’s (ESIC) Kamgar hospital, Andheri were asthma patients whose condition aggravated due to the poisonous smoke, said forensic experts. All the eight casualties took place due to asphyxiation (oxygen deprivation due to smoke inhalation) and internal injuries but none of them suffered any burn injuries, said doctors.

Dr Rajesh Sukhdeve, medical superintendent and head of forensic department at RN Cooper Hospital said asphyxiation was one of the major cause which was found in all the cases as none of them sustained burn injuries. “Two patients had suffered internal injuries when they tried to escape from smoke. They died of smoke inhalation and multiple internal injuries cause due to shock,” he added. Doctors added asthma aggravated the respiratory complications and the patients had very little chance to escape the smoke filled corridors unhurt.

Baby perished in birthplace

The place where she was born on October 15, was the very place a two-month-old baby succumbed to smoke inhalation on Monday, after a fire broke out in Kamgar Hospital, Andheri. Her distraught father, Rajesh Kumar Yadav, said, his wife Rukmini Yadav had been admitted to the hospital for treatment of kidney stones on December 14. Since the baby was being exclusively breastfed, Rajesh, accompanied by his sister-in-law, would bring the infant to Rukmini for feeding at 10am every day. “The baby’s aunt would be with the mother and baby all day, as I had to leave for work. I would bring her back at 10.30 pm on my home,” said a weeping Yadav.

Rukmini, the mother of the infant, said in her statement to the MIDC police station that when the fire broke out, her sister Dimple and her baby were asleep on the floor, when all of a sudden, the ward was filled with smoke. “Even as I was trying to wake them up, I passed out. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in Seven Hills Hospital, where the police officer asked me to identify a photo of my daughter,” she sobbed, and lost consciousness, according to police. The baby was taken to Holy Spirit Hospital, where she was declared dead during treatment, while Dimple is currently under the care of doctors at Cooper Hospital.

Tragedy just before discharge
Babu Khan (54) was admitted to the hospital for breathing problems and asthma, was about to get discharged on Tuesday, but the smoke inhalation which made him breathe his last in the male general ward on the fourth floor. “We had even bought a breathing apparatus worth Rs 25,000 at home but later we thought it’s better to keep him under active care of the doctors,” said Sabira Khan, Babu’s daughter.

She further said, Babu khan was about to get discharged for which she had gone to the second floor to speak with the doctors about her father’s condition and when the incident occurred she immediately called one of his relatives for help. “There was commotion, people were screaming and fleeing the hospital building. I tried to go to the third floor where my father was admitted but couldn’t step inside the smoke and backed off,” she said.

However, one of Babu’s relatives, managed to reach the fourth floor where Babu was admitted. He found him lying dead on his bed, so he started rescuing other patients who had a chance to survive. “Babu had already died when I reached his ward, so we began saving other patients who still had a chance to survive and also rescued two patients from the ICU. Once all the patients were rescued we rescued our patients body,” said Shamshuddin, Babu’s relative.

Frantic search for loved ones
As all the casualties were distributed in seven different hospitals, the relatives had a hard time to search the patients as there was a lack of coordination between the seven hospitals. Relatives of another asthma patient, Tirtharaj Gupta – a flour machine owner who was under treatment since November 15, were looking for him for two hours at different hospitals but failed to locate him.

“My mother was with him but at the time of the fire, she had stepped down to get medicines. Later we did not have a clue to which hospital was he shifted. We went to KEM, Rajawadi, GT Hospital and finally realised he is one of the deaths reported at Seven Hills Hospital,” said his son Lalchand.

Pujaram and Manisha were amongst the two other patients who were suffering from asthma and were separated from their relatives long before being rescued. Manisha’s relatives said that the women fell off the firemen’s staircase while being rescued, lost balance and fell from a height of two floors along with the fireman to sustain heavy injuries. Manisha was amongst those who suffered severe internal injuries due to smoke inhalation.


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