KARACHI: One of the seven paramedics who suffered burn injuries in Sunday’s fire at a government hospital in Liaquatabad died on Tuesday.

According to the health department, Sattar Ahmed was a ward boy at the Sindh Government Hospital Liaquatabad.

On Sunday, a fire broke out in the emergency department of the hospital due to a short circuit and seven paramedics suffered serious burn wounds.

Sources told Dawn that human loss and material damage from the tragedy would have been much higher if the fire erupted at the main hospital.

The fire, they said, had erupted at a separate block of the hospital which was being used for emergency services.

Five victims shifted to private health facility; many govt hospitals lack fire safety equipment, says official

The sources said that the hospital lacked proper fire safety equipment. CCTV footage that went viral on social media showed chaos after the fire as severely burnt paramedics ran for help one after another.

“Majority of the hospitals across the province lack fire safety equipment or even if they have proper equipment, the staff aren’t trained to use them,” a health department official said, adding that the same situation prevailed at the Laiquatabad hospital.

Commenting on reports about a delay in the rescue operation, a source said: “The affected area wasn’t accessible and crowded by people visiting the birds’ market set up every Sunday in the locality.”

The sources said that there were several hospitals in the city, including the one in New Karachi, where access to the facility was blocked by makeshift weekly markets.

Minister seeks fire safety details of hospitals

Caretaker Health Minister Dr Saad Khalid Niaz has directed all hospitals across the province to submit details of their fire safety arrangements by tomorrow.

A committee has already been set up to probe the facts and find those responsible for the fire incident at the hospital.

Initial investigation had showed that the hospital fire was caused by a short circuit in a storage room. Subsequently, the compressor of a fridge exploded.

The four-member inquiry committee has been asked to submit a report by Wednesday (tomorrow).

Five wounded shifted to private hospital

“One of the victims has been discharged while five paramedics have been shifted to [a private health facility] Patel Hospital,” said a spokesperson for the Sindh health department.

The patients were moved to the private hospital from the Burns Centre of the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi on families’ insistence and the department would bear their treatment expenses, he added.

The officials described the condition of three patients as critical; Asif Irfan has 100 per cent burns, Abdul Haseeb 89pc and Mahesh has 62pc burns.

Other two injured — Kashif and Hamza — have 29pc and 23pc burns, respectively.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2024

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