In a shocking incident, at least 11 people were killed in a fire that broke out at the COVID-19 Care Center paid for by a hotel in Vijayawada Private Hospital on Sunday morning, officials said.
Earlier, officials said three people had died in the crash, and four others were taken to hospital. With four more deaths, the death toll had risen to seven later. The victims included two women. Recent reports have put the death toll at 11.
Police officials did not report any more deaths during the early hours of the morning as the condition of the two staff members, who jumped from the first floor to escape, was said to be in critical condition.
About 50 people, including 30 coronavirus patients, were reported to be at the COVID-19 treatment center at the Hotel Swarna Palace at the time of the disaster.
City Police Commissioner Srinivasa Rao said the fire broke out at 5am. According to preliminary data, the overflow due to smoke from the fire is said to have caused the most damage.
Firefighters were rushed to the scene and rescued the paramedics from a ladder and were sent to nearby hospitals with the help of ambulances.
Preliminary investigations have found that a short circuit may be the cause of a fire that started in the building. It later spread to the first floor converted into a COVID-19 care center.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed shock and sadness at the incident and ordered an investigation. State Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas, representing the Vijayawada West Assembly, visited the area and directed the rescue operations.
The minister said the investigation would look into whether it was an accident or failure on the part of the hospital management. Sunday’s fire accident is the latest in a series of Andhra Pradesh mishaps in recent months. In May, a gas leak in Visakhapatnam at LG Polymers left 12 people dead. Recently, 12 people have died after consuming sanitisers due to alcoholism in Andhra Pradesh.