Four officials including the Superintendent of the private hospital, where a major fire claimed 20 lives, were arrested today after the Odisha government filed two FIRs alleging negligence in conduct and safety against the healthcare facility.
Those arrested are Superintendent of Sum Hospital, Pushpraj Samantsinghar, Electrical Maintenance Engineer Amulya Sahu, Fire Safety Officer Santosh Das and Junior Electrical Engineer Malay Sahu, said Commissioner of Police Y B Khurania.
Khurania said the officials were arrested on the basis of the preliminary inquiry report of the fire officer and the FIR filed by the Fire Services department at the Khandagiri police station where a case in this regard has been registered today.
The four were booked under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire and combustible materials) and 34 (common intent) of the IPC, Khurania said.
Earlier in the day, the hospital suspended four of its employees.
While 20 deaths were officially confirmed, authorities of different hospitals where the injured where shifted last night put the toll at 22.
As many as 106 patients, who were shifted from the private Sum Hospital following the blaze last night, are now undergoing treatment at different hospitals in the city, Health Secretary Arti Ahuja said, amid reports that some of them are in critical condition. Most of them were from the ICU and the dialysis unit, an official said.
Ahuja, who visited the Hospital, said that 14 and five bodies were received at the Capital Hospital and AMRI Hospital here respectively, while a spokesman of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar said that one death was reported at their facility.
Ahuja said the ICU and dialysis unit of the hospital have been sealed to ensure a proper investigation.
Most of the deaths in the four-storey hospital took place due to suffocation and asphyxiation, a senior official said, adding that majority of the patients at the ICU were on ventilator support.
Poisonous carbon monoxide fumes spread through air-conditioner ducts following an electric short-circuit in the hospital, media reports said today.
The Hospital has denied any negligence on its part and termed the deadly incident an accident.
“Accidents have no explanation. You can call it bad luck,” Dr JR Das, Associate Dean, SUM Hospital, told reporters.
“Believe it to be an accident… It is an accident,” the Siksha 'O' Anusandhan University (SOU) VC Amit Banerjee said.
Meanwhile, Director General of Fire Service, Binay Behera submitted a report to the state government on the fire that ravaged parts of the private hospital last night.
Behera in his report has mentioned that fire safety norms as per the 2013 guidelines were not followed by the hospital authorities, an official said.
A senior police official said more arrests in the case cannot be ruled out at this stage.
Earlier, two separate FIRs were lodged by Joint Director of the Directorate of Medical Education and Training (DMET), Umakanta Satpathy and Fire Officer (Central Circle) B B Das with the Khandagiri police station, said ACP P K Patnaik.
In both the cases, allegations of negligence in conduct and safety were levelled against the Sum hospital authorities, he said adding, some other organisations have also lodged complaints against the hospital.
State Health and Family Welfare minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said the Joint Director of DMET lodged an FIR against the hospital for alleged violation of provisions under Odisha Clinic and Establishment Act, 1992.
"DMET had earlier issued guidelines to hospitals and clinical establishments across the state asking them to put in place fire safety measures. Licenses of those found flouting these guidelines will be cancelled," he said.
DMET Prof P C Mohapatra, who has been leading an inquiry team, visited the hospital this afternoon and said the guilty would definitely be punished.