Emergency services and staff were unable to reach the babies in time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the tragedy “heart-wrenching.”
Ten newborn babies were killed in a maternity unit in India early on Saturday after a fire broke out in major hospital, a doctor said.
The infants were 1 to 3 months old, the Press Trust of India news agency said.
The incident took place at the Bhandara District General Hospital in the western state of Maharashtra, nearly 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) south of New Delhi.
Nurses on duty noticed a fire coming from the hospital’s neonatal unit at around 1.30 a.m. local time (20:00 UTC, Friday) and raised the alarm.
Staff and emergency services rescued seven of the newborn infants hospital, Pramod Khandate, a senior doctor, told news agency AFP.
They were unable to reach the other 10 babies who were in a separate ward.
“Our staff extinguished the fire as soon as they could. The smoke led to the babies suffocating,” Khandate said.
The fire brigade stopped the blaze from spreading to other parts of the hospital and other patients were moved to safety.
A preliminary investigation suggests it was caused by an electrical short-circuit, said police officer V.S. Chavan, reported news agency AP. However, this is not confirmed.
Authorities have ordered an immediate inquiry into Saturday’s disaster.
“Heart-wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
Heart-wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives. My thoughts are with all the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover as early as possible.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 9, 2021
Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi called the deaths “extremely tragic.”
The unfortunate incident of fire at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra is extremely tragic.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 9, 2021
My condolences to the families of the children who lost their lives.
I appeal to Maha Govt to provide every possible assistance to the families of the injured & deceased.
Home Minister Amit Shah expressed condolences in a tweet, adding: “I am pained beyond words.”
More than 90 people died in an inferno in a Kolkata hospital in 2011.
A fire at a hospital in Ahmedabad in August killed eight coronavirus patients. Another five COVID-19 patients died in a blaze in a clinic in Rajkot in November.
The Supreme Court called for a report on safety in coronavirus hospitals, following these latest incidents.