KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – A fire broke out in the forensics department of Malaysia’s largest public hospital on Saturday (March 17), forcing an evacuation of patients, staff and visitors.
Hospital authorities said fire fighters put out the blaze, which broke out at at around 12.15pm at a storage room of the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, before it was able to spread. No casualties were reported.
“The Fire and Rescue Department was alerted and the fire was brought under control before it could spread,” hospital director Dr Nor Akma Yusuf said in a statement.
She said that services at the hospital were not affected.
Images and videos posted on Twitter and Facebook showed hospital staff evacuating dozens of patients on stretchers and in wheelchairs.
The fire department said a short circuit is believed to have sparked off the fire.
City Fire and Rescue Department director Khirudin Drahman said the hospital’s engineering team had prevented a larger disaster from happening when they removed oxygen tanks that were stored close to the room where the fire broke out.
He said patients and staff were evacuated from nearby buildings in an orderly fashion. "The patients in these buildings are not critical so most were able to walk out. Some who couldn't were wheeled out on beds and wheelchairs," he said.
Normal hospital operations resumed shortly after the fire was put out at around 1.30pm.
"We are now working to restore electricity and oxygen supply. Some biochemical materials, including 19 cadavers were also moved during the fire as the storage freezers had been shut off," he said, adding that the morgue suffered some slight smoke and heat damage.
A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.
The forensics institute is the top forensics agency in the country.
It has handled several high profile cases in Malaysia, including the post mortem on the body of Kim Jong Nam, the murdered half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Any connection between the fire and this case was considered unlikely.