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Vijayawada COVID care centre fire,11 dead : CM orders probe, Governor condoles deaths…

Vijayawasa(Special opinion)Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Sunday ordered a probe into the fire that broke out at Hotel Swarna Palace in Vijayawada; which had been leased by a private hospital and converted into a facility for COVID-19 patients who did not require hospitalisation. At least eight people have died in the mishap.The Chief Minister has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.The fire broke out at Hotel Swarna Palace in Vijayawada; which had been leased by a private hospital and converted into a facility for COVID-19 patients.State Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas, who represents Vijayawada West Assembly constituency, visited the spot and supervised rescue operations. The Minister said the inquiry will look into whether it was an accident or failure on part of the hospital management.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed anguish at the death of patients in the accident. He said that he discussed the incident with Jagan Mohan Reddy and assured all possible help.”Anguished by the fire at a COVID care centre in Vijayawada. My thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones. I pray that the injured recover as soon as possible (sic),” the Prime Minister tweeted.”Discussed the prevailing situation with AP CM YS Jagan and assured all possible support,” he said.Home Minister Amit Shah also responded to the incident, tweeting, “Deeply anguished by the news of the tragic fire accident at a COVID-19 facility in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. Centre assures all possible support to the state government. My condolences are with the affected families in this time of grief. Praying for the speedy recovery of those injured.”Andhra Pradesh Leader of Opposition (LoP) N Chandrababu Naidu in a statement said, “In deep anguish after learning about the fire accident at the Vijayawada Covid Centre this morning. I extend my deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones and pray for the speedy recovery to those injured.”Around 50 persons, including 30 coronavirus patients, were reported to be present at the building when the tragedy struck. City Police Commissioner Srinivasa Rao said that the fire broke out around 5 am.According to initial information, suffocation due to smoke emanating from the fire is said to have caused most casualties. Firefighters were rushed to the spot and they rescued the patients at the centre with the help of ladders and rushed them to nearby hospitals in 15 ambulances.Preliminary investigation found that a short circuit was the likely cause of the fire that started on the ground floor of the building. It later spread to the first floor.The complaint filed by Vijayawada Central tahsildar claimed that the hotel and hospital authorities were aware of electrical defects in the building.Hours after a deadly fire killed at least 10 COVID-19 patients at a Covid care facility in Vijayawada, an FIR was filed at the Governorpet police station based on a complaint from the Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) of Vijayawada Central. Tahsildar P Jayasri filed a complaint naming the management of Ramesh Hospital and Hotel Swarna Palace naming them as suspected or accused parties.The complaint claimed that the authorities of Ramesh Hospitals and Hotel Swarna Palace management knew that there were electrical defects in the hostel building that could lead to a short circuit fire, but went ahead to set up a COVID-19 care centre in the building without conducting the necessary repairs as they would have cost a lot of money. A fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday morning at the hotel which had been leased by Ramesh Hospitals to run a COVID-19 care centre for patients with mild symptoms. According to state Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas (Nani), there were 43 people present at the hotel when the incident occurred, including 30 COVID-19 patients. Of these people, at least 10 patients are believed to have lost their lives. The Minister claimed that the remaining 20 patients are being treated in a hospital, and there is no danger to their lives.In her report, tahsildar Jayasri wrote that Ramesh Hospitals had entered an MoU with Hotel Swarna Palace, to run a COVID-10 care centre as a paid service. “It appears that the managements of the Hotel Swarna Palace and the Ramesh Hospital had knowledge that there are electrical defects in the lodge, and as rectification of defects involved with huge huge amount, avoided to repair it. Knowing the fact that if the defects were not rectified, there is every possibility of shortage of electricity they opened the covid-19 Centre in the swarna palace,” she wrote.Stating that 10 persons have died in the fire that broke out on Sunday morning, and 20 patients and staff members were injured, she said that the management of Hotel Swarna Palace, and authorities of Ramesh Hospitals, were responsible for the deaths. However, the complaint makes no mention about the role played by any government official in sanctioning the hotel as a covid care facility.A case was registered against the hotel and hospital managements under section 304 (II) (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) read with 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. 

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