A major fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday morning at Hotel Swarna Palace in Vijayawada, which had been converted into a COVID care centre (CCC). While initial reports said that there were three casualities, at least eight people are feared dead in the mishap besides several others, who were injured, according to authorities. The building was housing COVID-19 patients who were mildly symptomatic and those who did not require hospitalisation.
Visuals of the incident show people stuck in the upper floors of the building, even as fire engines battled flames which had broken out near the first and second floor of the hotel. Many of them were standing near their balcony and signalling to authorities to help them.
Andhra Pradesh Fire service personnel used ladders to rescue some of those who were stuck, while others were brought out of the building after the flames were doused and put in ambulances that had arrived at the spot. The entire lobby of the hotel was destroyed in the accident.
Krishna District Fire Officer Sreenivasa Reddy said, “Around eight to 10 people are feared dead. There were 30 patients in total (at the centre). The rest have been rescued and sent to Ramesh Hospital. They were all COVID-19 patients admitted to the CCC run by Ramesh Hospital. There may have been five to 10 staff members. The cause of the fire is still unclear. We can only say that after investigation.”
While the reason for the fire is yet to be ascertained, media reports suggest that a short circuit could have led to the incident. Further details are awaited.
Earlier this week, a fire at a private hospital in Ahmedabad in Gujarat had led to the deaths of eight COVID-19 patients. The victims included five men and three women, who were being treated at the ICU ward of the COVID-19 designated Shrey Hospital in Navrangpura area of Ahmedabad. Primary investigations had revealed that the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit.
At present, Andhra Pradesh has reported 2,14,145 COVID-19 cases, of which 85,486 are active. While 1,26,720 people have recovered, 1,939 people have succumbed to the virus. Vijayawada city accounts for a major chunk of coronavirus cases.
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