India: Death Toll In Hospital Fire Rises To 89


The death toll from a fire that engulfed a private hospital in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata has risen to 89.

Authorities say the blaze swept through the AMRI Hospital early Friday in the capital of West Bengal state.

Local television channels showed patients being rolled out on stretchers and distraught relatives waiting outside the hospital as smoke engulfed the multi-story building. Many of the victims died from suffocation caused by the thick, choking smoke.

Officials say six hospital personnel have been arrested and could face charges of culpable homicide, following the second fire at the AMRI hospital in three years.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has begun proceedings to cancel the hospital’s license. She promised a full probe into the incident, after government officials alleged that some hospital staff fled the scene when the fire broke out. Banerjee also said action would be taken if fire prevention standards were found to be below standard.

But AMRI’s senior vice president said the hospital followed strict fire safety measures. He promised monetary compensation to victims’ families.

Firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control and rescue those trapped inside the building, after maneuvering narrow surrounding streets to reach the Kolkata hospital.

A senior official at the hospital says there were 160 patients at the facility at the time of the blaze, which broke out in the hospital’s basement where chemicals are stored.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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