Vivek Vihar tragedy: Desperate searches and tears, hospital fire leaves parents shattered : The Tribune India

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Vivek Vihar tragedy: Desperate searches and tears, hospital fire leaves parents shattered

Locals heroes rescue babies from burning building I Grieving families allege lack of accountability

Vivek Vihar tragedy: Desperate searches and tears, hospital fire leaves parents shattered

A police official inspects the baby care centre, where a fire left seven newborns dead, at Vivek Vihar in East Delhi. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui



Tribune News Service

Anshita Mehra

New Delhi, May 26

In the serene streets of Vivek Vihar here, a tragic incident unfolded on Saturday night, shattering the tranquillity and claiming the lives of the most vulnerable members of society. A massive fire ravaged through Baby Care New Born Hospital, leaving behind the devastation of at least seven families who lost their infants in the blaze.

Family members cry outside a mortuary at GTB Hospital where the bodies were taken for postmortem on Sunday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

What was supposed to be a haven of healing and comfort turned into a scene of horror and despair as parents arrived to confront their worst nightmares. Shockingly, amid the chaos and flames, they alleged a significant lack of communication and transparency, leaving them to grapple with the incomprehensible loss of their young ones.

Anita, a grieving mother who lost her newborn son in the blaze, expressed her anguish, stating, “No one informed us of anything. It was only through the news that I learnt about the fire at the hospital.” Her son had been admitted to the hospital for three days due to a high fever. She identified his body at the GTB Hospital.

Mother of one of the newborn babies that were at the Baby Care Hospital, where a fire broke out on Saturday. Manas Ranjan Bhui

However, due to the absence of identification tags on the infants, police officials said they would require a blood test before giving the babies to their respective families, as Anita shared.

At the hospital, parents were restricted to visiting their newborns for a limited two-hour period between 2pm and 4 pm, typically receiving calls during that timeframe. Outside of these hours, hospital staff attended to the infants while parents were asked to leave.

Anzaan’s journey encapsulates the anguish and uncertainty experienced by every family touched by this tragedy. Arriving at the scene around 1 pm on Sunday after being alerted by a friend, Anzaan searched desperately for his daughter Nurjahan, who was just 11 days’ old.

Recounting his daughter’s medical ordeal, he shared, “My daughter was born on May 15 and was admitted here due to a blood platelet issue. The doctor suggested a 72-hour stay, but today marks the 11th day since her arrival. I spent around Rs 2 lakh on her treatment as the hospital charged Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 per day.”

Expressing his anguish, he said, “I usually received a call around 2 pm to visit my daughter, albeit for just two hours. Even today, I was awaiting that call when my friend informed me about the blast. I still don’t know where my daughter is.”

Tears welled up in his eyes as he arrived at the site, desperately searching for any sign of his beloved child. After the tragedy, the authorities transferred the five rescued infants to a nearby hospital, East Delhi Medical Centre, while those who did not survive were taken to GTB Hospital.

Despite his efforts to locate Nurjahan at the nearby hospital, Anzaan was left heartbroken and compelled to journey to GTB Hospital, where he ultimately received the devastating news of his daughter’s demise.

As the community mourns the loss of innocent lives, questions have arisen regarding the role of hospital staff during the crisis. Rita Saroj, speaking on behalf of the grieving parents who lost their newborns, said, “The blame lies with the doctor. Even if the fire was not his fault, he should have been present to console the parents and provide information about the incident, rather than fleeing.”

Reflecting on her brother’s tragic loss, she recounted, “My brother had already lost one baby prior to this, and now this incident has taken away another child who was barely 17 days old. We were even afraid to show her face, fearing the evil eye, but now this unthinkable tragedy has occurred.”

Eyewitness accounts from neighbours who heard a blast around 11 pm described the front side of the hospital engulfed in flames, with oxygen cylinders exploding and reaching up to the nearby Industrial Training Institutes.

Vinay Narang, the RWA president of the area, said, “At 11.30 pm, I received a call from my son’s friend about the blast. When I arrived at the scene, I realised there was no way out in the front, so I went to the backside where nurses broke the glass window and handed over the babies to me and other neighbours who came to the rescue.” Narang recounted rescuing five babies and transporting them to East Delhi Medical Centre.

Another neighbour Inder Oberoi said, “The front side was engulfed in flames with oxygen cylinders blasting out. Although there might have been a back exit, there was no information about it, and the babies were rescued through a window at the rear.”

Atul Jain, another local resident, recounted, “Around 11:30 pm while I was asleep, I suddenly heard a blast and felt my bed shake violently... I rushed out of my house to the fire site where I witnessed oxygen cylinders exploding right before my eyes.”

Despite uncertainty surrounding the cause of the fire, locals unanimously agreed that the presence of numerous oxygen cylinders on the ground floor of the hospital played a significant role in fuelling the blaze.

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