India hospital owner arrested over deadly fire that killed 21 patients

Indian rescue workers transporting a victim of a massive fire at the SUM hospital building in Bhubaneswar, the capital of coastal Odisha state.
Indian rescue workers transporting a victim of a massive fire at the SUM hospital building in Bhubaneswar, the capital of coastal Odisha state. PHOTO: AFP
Indian rescue workers lowering a body of a victim of a massive fire at the SUM hospital building in Bhubaneswar.
Indian rescue workers lowering a body of a victim of a massive fire at the SUM hospital building in Bhubaneswar. PHOTO: AFP
Indian rescue workers trying help victims of a massive fire at the SUM hospital building in Bhubaneswar.
Indian rescue workers trying help victims of a massive fire at the SUM hospital building in Bhubaneswar. PHOTO: AFP
Firefighters trying to douse a fire that broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of SUM hospital in Bhubaneswar.
Firefighters trying to douse a fire that broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of SUM hospital in Bhubaneswar. PHOTO: EPA

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indian police have arrested the wanted owner of a hospital after he turned himself in over a blaze earlier this week that killed 21 patients, a top officer said on Thursday (Oct 20.

Mr Manoj Nayak, chairman of the private SUM hospital, presented himself at a police station late on Wednesday night following a two-day hunt for him in eastern Odisha state.

"He is the main trustee of the hospital. He is the man behind the show, he was running the hospital," said Odisha director general of police Kunwar Brajesh Singh.

"He came to the police station. After his surrender, he was interrogated and he has been arrested," he told the Times Now TV network.

Four other staff from the Bhubaneswar city hospital were arrested on Tuesday and face charges of criminal negligence and homicide over the fire that broke out in the intensive care unit on Monday night.

The fire took hold in the dialysis ward of the hospital before quickly spreading to other sections, killing 19 seriously ill patients who were unable to flee the blaze.

Two more patients died of injuries suffered in the fire.

The state government has ordered an inquiry into the tragedy, promising tough action against those found responsible for the accident.

The Indian Express and other local media reported that the hospital had not complied with required safety standards and staff had not received proper fire training.

Fire disasters are relatively common in India, partly because of poor safety standards.

In 2011 more than 90 patients were killed in the eastern city of Kolkata when a fire raged through a private hospital, trapping many people inside the building.