Five infants killed in Punjab hospital fire (Lead)

January 31st, 2009 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Patiala (Punjab), Jan 31 (IANS) At least five infants were burnt to death in a fire that broke out in the phototherapy ward of the government-run Rajindra Hospital in Punjab’s Patiala town early Saturday, hospital authorities said.One seriously burnt infant was rushed to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) at Chandigarh, about 90 km away.

Five other children also received serious burn injuries but were out of danger, said doctors.

Patiala range Divisional Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir told IANS that a tubelight used for treatment in the phototherapy unit burst Saturday morning, which led to the spread of fire in the room where the infants were kept.

The infants were being treated for jaundice. Five of the infants were charred to death before any help could arrive. Their mothers had fed them barely 20 minutes before the incident, said hospital authorities.

Two of the victims belonged to Kaithal town and one to Sirsa town in neighbouring Haryana. One victim was from Patiala, while another one was from a village near Patiala.

Rajindra Hospital medical superintendent Surinder Kumar said the incident was being investigated. Preliminary investigations point out to either the tubelight bursting due to overheating or due to a short circuit.

“A magisterial inquiry into the incident has been ordered. It will be conducted by the sub-divisional magistrate. The government has declared an immediate compensation of Rs.100,000 to families of the victims,” Bir said.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal expressed shock at the death of the five infants in the hospital fire.

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