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5 infants perish in Punjab hospital incubator fire

Posted Feb 02 2009 11:40pm

PATIALA: Five new born babies were burnt alive and two others were seriously injured at a government hospital in the wee hours on Saturday when

the incubators they were kept in caught fire due to a suspected short circuit. ( Watch )

The incident occurred when an incubator, where all the five newly born children were kept, caught fire at 3:15am, Superintendent of Police Gurmit Singh said. It is suspected that the fire broke out due to a short circuit, he said, adding the identities of the children were not known immediately.

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has ordered an magisterial inquiry in the incident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs one lakh to the families of the children killed in the mishap.

The hospital's medical superintendent, Surinder Kumar, said that the accident occurred after a tubelight in the photo-therapy ward of the hospital burst.

A total of 10 children undergoing treatment for jaundice at the hospital were kept in photo therapy units when the wires of the machine caught fire, charring five of them to death including three boys and two girls.

Photo therapy (light treatment) is used for the treatment of jaundice. Two other children were seriously injured while three others were rescued. The victims were in the age group of three to seven days.

"There was a short circuit in the tubes of the machines. The staff reacted immediately...but unfortunately five babies could not be saved," the SP was quoted as saying by a television channel.

Some hospital sources claimed that the machines were not well equipped. Parents of the children rushed to the ward on hearing a loud burst there and saw that the room was already in flames.
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