India hospital fire kills 11 Covid-19 patients

Charred remains inside a ward after a fire broke out at a hospital in Ahmednagar district, in Maharashtra state, India, on Nov 6, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI (AFP) - Fire tore through a hospital in western India on Saturday (Nov 6) killing at least 11 coronavirus patients, officials said.

The blaze was the latest to hit pandemic wards across India.

There were about two dozen patients at the intensive care unit (ICU) in the hospital in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra state, when the fire broke out, officials said.

Most of the dead were aged over 60.

The hospital ward, which was left a charred wreck, had been newly built for coronavirus patients.

Maharashtra state chief minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered a formal investigation into the blaze and safety conditions at the hospital 250km from the regional capital Mumbai.

India's underfunded public health system was pushed to breaking point by a coronavirus surge from April to May.

A number of Covid-19 hospitals have been hit by fire tragedies.

At least 16 Covid-19 patients and two nurses were killed in a blaze at a hospital in Gujarat state in May. A police investigation blamed a short-circuit in the hospital's ICU.

In April, at least 13 Covid-19 patients were killed at a Mumbai clinic, which came just days after another hospital blaze in the city that left 22 dead.

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