A fire killed at least 12 people in a hospital treating coronavirus patients in Gujarat State in western India early Saturday, as a surge of infections and deaths overwhelms the country and its health system.
The blaze tore through the Covid-19 ward at Welfare Hospital in the city of Bharuch, about 180 miles north of Mumbai, the police told the Press Trust of India. Around 50 other people were rescued and transferred to other hospitals.
The fire was under control, the ANI news agency reported, and had been started by a short circuit.
Videos posted to social media showed a part of the hospital in flames and patients being evacuated.
Several incidents in hospitals have claimed the lives of dozens of coronavirus patients in India recently. A fire killed four people at a hospital in Surat, another city in Gujarat. At least 22 coronavirus patients died at a hospital in the neighboring state of Maharashtra when a leak cut off their oxygen supply. Two days later, a fire at another hospital in the state left at least 13 Covid-19 patients dead.
The second wave in India has crammed hospitals to unbearably full capacity, exhausted oxygen supplies and left desperate people dying in line waiting to see doctors. Mass cremations have been held around the country.
The health authorities are now reporting more than 300,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths a day.
A growing number of countries have curtailed travel to and from India. As of Tuesday, the American government will bar most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States from India, the Biden administration announced on Friday.
India’s vaunted vaccine industry — a world leader — has been overwhelmed with demand for Covid-19 vaccine and has restricted exports to satisfy the need at home.
Other fires in hospitals treating Covid-19 patients around the world have heightened the devastation when they are already struggling to meet the demands of overwhelming cases and deaths.
Last week, a fire set off by an exploding oxygen cylinder killed at least 82 people, most of them Covid-19 patients and their relatives, at a Baghdad hospital. The Interior Ministry said that 110 more people were hurt, many with severe burns succumbed to their injuries.