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Kolkata fire: AMRI directors remanded to police custody

Last Updated: Saturday, December 10, 2011 - 17:40

Zeenews Bureau

Kolkata: Six directors of Kolkata’s AMRI Hospital – where a fire on Friday killed 91 people, majority of them patients – were on Saturday remanded to ten days in police custody.

The Alipore court also directed the authorities to produce them before it on December 20.

A case of negligence and culpable homicide has been registered against the six directors who were arrested yesterday. Among the board members are leading industrialists, Emami Group Chairman RS Goenka and Shrachi Group`s RS Todi, believed to be the hospital’s owners.

They had voluntarily surrendered at a local police station yesterday post the fire tragedy which is worst ever in any hospital across India.

The pre-dawn fire Friday had broken out at 3.30 am, catching many in their sleep. While most nurses, doctors and other staffers were able to get away, many critically ill patients suffocated to death in their hospital beds.
The tragedy unfolded over many hours. Some were suffocated, some were too infirm to escape the toxic fumes. The lucky few were brought down the side of the four-storey glass facade building using ropes and ladders, even as thousands watched in horror.

The fire brigade, many alleged, came over two hours late. The fire brigade blamed it on narrow lanes leading to the hospital.

The autopsy has been completed on 87 victims and 84 have been identified when reports last came in. The blaze also injured over 50 patients.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had ordered the arrest of six hospital directors.

"The hospital staff initially prevented the fire fighters from entering the building," said Banerjee, a shocking admission that only added fuel to the helpless anger of the families of the dead and injured.
The bodies, most of them bearing signs of suffocation, piled up at the SSKM hospital for autopsy. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited the SSKM hospital in the evening and expressed grief and shock over the fire tragedy.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in expressing grief over the tragedy. He announced Rs 200,000 as compensation to families of each of those killed.

Till late on Friday evening, rescuers were trying to drill holes in the wall and smash the glass-panes in a last ditch effort to look for survivors and bodies, and extinguish still smouldering fires.

Co-founded by the Emami & Shrachi Groups along with the West Bengal government in 1996, the hospital. once rated as amongst India`s best, is located in the fairly upscale Dhakuria neighbourhood.

Following the tragedy, the hospital`s licence has been cancelled and its building sealed.

(With IANS Input)

First Published: Saturday, December 10, 2011 - 09:13
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