Maharashtra hospital fire: Kin of deceased in shock as hope of recovery from COVID turns into permanent loss

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Family members of the 11 COVID-19 patients, who died after a fire broke out at a hospital in Ahmednagar, are in a state of shock and yet to come to terms with the reality that their loved ones, whom they had admitted to the medical facility with the hope of recovery, will now never come back home.

Some of them have been inconsolable as they could not even have a last glimpse of their dead relatives in the wake of the COVID-19 protocols.

The family members bid farewell to their dead relatives with a heavy heart after the bodies were handed over to them by the hospital administration late Saturday evening.

Eleven coronavirus patients were killed on Saturday after a major fire broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the district civil hospital in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar city, located 120 km from Pune and 253 km from Mumbai.

The blaze erupted around 11 am in the ICU ward where 17 COVID-19 patients, many of them senior citizens and some on ventilator or oxygen, were undergoing treatment.

The ward had been added to the hospital after the pandemic began, officials earlier said.

The hospital administration late in the evening handed over the bodies to their relatives who performed the last rites at crematoriums in Ahmednagar city and neighbouring Nevasa tehsil in the district.

Adinath Wagh, who lost his uncle Ramkishan Harpude (70) in the hospital blaze, performed his cremation at their native place in Nevasa on Saturday night.

“It was only two days back that he was admitted and we were expecting a speedy recovery. But he died in the fire tragedy,” he told PTI.

Wagh said many of the close family members were distraught and inconsolable as they could not see Harpude’s face one last time due to the COVID-19 protocols.

“After receiving the body, it was taken to our native place and we performed the last rites in the presence of close family members,” he added.

Bhagwan Pawar, who lost his father Bhivaji Pawar (80) in the hospital blaze, said they had to perform his last rites in Ahmednagar instead of their native village in Parner tehsil.

The other relatives could not attend the funeral, he rued.

“My father had a tragic death. Due to COVID-19, the cremation was conducted in Ahmednagar only. Only a few of us were present in the crematorium,” he said.

Vivek Khatik, whose father Kadu Bal Gangadhar Khatik (65) also died in the tragedy, said they performed his funeral at their village in Nevasa tehsil.

“We received the body late Saturday evening for the last rites. My mother was also in the same ICU. We could save her, but not my father,” Khatik said.

According to police officials, out of the 11 deceased, one was so far unidentified and the body was kept in a morgue.

The victim will be cremated by the Ahmednagar civic body after completion of the due process, they said.

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