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Delhi Hospital Blaze: Safety Violations Uncovered After Tragic Deaths Of Seven Newborns

EXCERPT: Owner and doctor at the hospital where a fire killed seven babies have been arrested due to safety violations.

A devastating fire at a hospital in Delhi’s Vivek Vihar neighborhood in India, has resulted in the tragic deaths of seven babies, prompting widespread outrage and uncovering significant safety violations. The fire broke out on Saturday, leading to the arrests of the hospital owner and the doctor on duty.

Investigations have revealed that the hospital was operating without a valid license and lacked essential fire safety measures, such as fire extinguishers and an emergency exit. The hospital’s No Objection Certificate (NOC), which certifies compliance with fire safety standards, had expired on March 31. Additionally, the hospital was only permitted to have five beds but had installed ten.

At the time of the fire, twelve newborn babies were in the hospital. While five babies have been transferred to another hospital for treatment, the tragic loss of seven lives has horrified the community. Police Commissioner Shahdara Surendra Chaudhary confirmed the hospital’s safety violations and announced the arrest of Dr. Naveen Kichi, the hospital’s director, and Dr. Akash, who was on duty during the incident. Both have been charged with culpable homicide. Police noted that Dr. Akash was not qualified to treat newborns requiring intensive care.

The fire spread rapidly due to a blast in an oxygen cylinder, according to Atul Garg, the director of Delhi’s fire department. Dramatic visuals of the fire engulfing the building circulated on social media, showing the intense blaze and chaotic rescue efforts. Reports suggest that the police are also investigating the possibility of the hospital running an illegal oxygen cylinder filling racket after locals reported suspicious activities.

Rescue efforts were hindered by the hospital’s limited access, which has a single staircase and no fire escape. Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described the incident as “heartbreaking” and vowed that those responsible for the negligence would face consequences. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his grief, calling the incident “heart-rending” and announced ex gratia payments of 200,000 rupees ($2,407; £1,889) to the families of the deceased and 50,000 rupees to those injured.

The Delhi government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, as the community and authorities grapple with the profound loss and seek justice for the victims.

This tragedy comes on the heels of another deadly fire in Rajkot, Gujarat, where 27 people lost their lives in a gaming arcade blaze, highlighting the pervasive issue of lax enforcement of safety norms in neighborhoods in India.

Melissa Enoch

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