At least 18 coronavirus patients died after a fire broke out at the Bharuch hospital in Gujarat, around 190 km from the state capital Ahmedabad, in the early hours on Saturday.
“The fire was so intense that the ICU ward was almost burnt to the ground. All the equipment inside, including the ventilators and the fridge used to store the medicines and also the beds, were turned to ashes,” an eyewitness said.
Some patients were charred beyond recognition and relatives found it difficult to identify their bodies.
The blaring of the ambulances and fire tenders could be heard in the hospital’s vicinity as dozens of such vehicles rushed to the hospital to douse the fire and also to shift the patients who survived the blaze to other hospitals.
People were seen desperately trying to find out if their near and dear ones were safe inside the hospital.
Along with the rescue teams, many residents were seen volunteering to rescue the patients and shift them to ambulances so that they could be taken to nearby hospitals.
Several patients were shifted out on wheelchairs or by makeshift stretchers using cloth in absence of stretchers.
Locals pitched in to help rescue the patients and take them to the ambulances and auto-rickshaws to shift them to other hospitals in time.
Several vehicles of the district police also reached the spot to ensure that law and order remain under control.